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.