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Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

A story about whales and humans

As well as working for WDC, I write books for young people. Stories; about the...
Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

Everything we learn about the Risso's dolphins off the coast of Scotland amazes us and...
Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whale (balaenoptera physalus) Three fin whales Gulf of California.

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...

The mystery of dolphins & breaching

The bottlenose dolphin is possibly the most socially active of the dolphin species that we get in the chilly waters of the Moray Firth and North East Coast of Scotland and many people that visit this area want to see the dolphins doing one thing – breaching or jumping clear out of the water. This highly energetic activity uses up a lot of calories and in nature very little in the way of reserves can afford be wasted…it must mean something or be important for the dolphin to do this. 

Most dolphins are of course highly social and use the equivalent of our “body language” a lot to demonstrate or get across to another individual a meaning or intention. Breaching can be part of a hunting technique – to herd or scare fish into a specific area but at this time of year, high summer, we see a lot of breaching and highly energetic behaviour that seems to be more personal in nature. Social bonding is very important in cetacean culture and some of the breaching activity is likely to be re-establishing social bonds or is perhaps sexual in nature – it is very difficult to tell in a lot of cases but whatever is going on with the two young males in the photo above – it certainly is spectacular and wonderful to witness in the wild, open sea – where every whale and dolphin belongs.

About Charlie Phillips

Field officer - Adopt a Dolphin