Jumping for joy! Photographer captures the jaw-dropping moment a minke whale leaps out of the water and opens its mouth
A California photographer has captured a minke whale displaying some extremely rare behavior in the wild.
Photographer Slater Moore was working on the Newport Beach-based Ocean Explorer whale-watching boat on Saturday when he witnessed a lone minke whale breaching off the right side of the vessel.
Minke whales, which grow to be about 29-feet long, are not known to breach often in the wild, but sometimes jump out of the water in groups or to feed.
However, this time the minke whale appeared to be breaching just for fun as it opened it's mouth coming out of the water and closer it before going back in.
With its mouth wide open, the minke appeared very joyful as the 100 passengers watched the whale breach a total of 10 times.
'Everybody was freaking out; it was insane,' Moore told Grind TV. 'Nobody had ever seen anything like that.'
The pictures were subsequently posted to Facebook where they ignited a discussion online about the whale's surprising behavior.
Ursula Tscherter, a minke whale research with the Ocean Research and Education Society, told GrindTV that the pictures show an 'amazing and very peculiar' behavior.
'I am intrigued by the final little splash of water coming out of the closing mouth … lovely … and she closed it before landing,' Tscherter added. 'I don’t think it’s related to feeding.'