A Whale's Spout Can Tell You Its Species

Experienced whale-watchers can determine a whale's species just by spotting its spout. Orcas have bushy-shaped spouts, while humpback whales' spouts are column-shaped and gray whales' spouts are heart-shaped. But there are other distinctive features that can clue in keen observers, such as a whale's dorsal fin, the number of whales in a group, and a whale's tail flukes. (Humpback whales have tail flukes that are unique to each individual!) Even splashes and ripples have something to say about the cetaceans that left them: a large gathering of ripples might mean dolphins, whereas a big splash could be a humpback's breach.


Love getting smarter? Sign up for our newsletter to learn something new every day!

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Whales release air (and sometimes mucus) from their blowholes, not water. 01:07

  2. The blowholes of sperm whales are located on the left side of the whale's head, rather than on top. 02:24

  3. Humpback whales can sneeze air at more than 300 mph. 04:39