Each year, Humpback Whales migrate 3,000 miles from their winter breeding grounds in Hawaii to Alaska, British Columbia, and Russia for the summer months. The Humpback Whales migrate to the northern Pacific area to feed in the rich waters having lost up to 1/3 of their body weight during breeding and migration.
So why do whales breach? No one knows for sure. There are several hypothesis. One is that the whales are trying to remove parasites from their skin by slamming into the water. Another theory is that whales use this behavior to communicate.
This photo sequence of a humpback whale breaching was taken from a cruise ship near Ketchikan, Alaska. For those of you interesting in photo gear, I was using a Canon 5d Mark III, with a Canon 300mm f/4 lens, and a Canon EF 2.0X III telephoto extender. You can click on each photo to see a larger image.