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Humpback whale spa

Humpback whales migrating southwards along Australia's east coast, on their way back to their colder feeding grounds, have been discovered rolling around together on the sandy seafloor of some shallow bays on the way.

During their time in their tropical and subtropical breeding grounds, humpbacks get lots of barnacles and other parasites sticking onto their skin. Rolling around in the sand and rubble seems to help the whales scratch off these parasites, along with dead skin to keep their skin fresh and healthy.

Videos of the whales show pieces of skin rubbing off, indicating that the whales are indeed removing parasites. This is essential because if the parasites build up, they become heavy and slow the whales down, wasting energy.

The humpbacks seem to enjoy themselves while socialising and rolling around and scratching together, and we can only imagine how good it must feel!

Humpback whale spa cartoon

About Alison Wood

Ali is WDC's Education coordinator. She also edits our children's magazine, Splash. She previously spent many years coordinating our research and conservation projects around the world. Her favourite species are river dolphins.

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