To remove dead skin cells from their considerable bodies, humpback whales have been filmed scrubbing themselves in a sandy spa. Although this is not the first time this behavior has been suggested, this is the first time researchers have filmed them underwater rolling around in the sand on the sea bed.
In these shallow bay areas, the humpbacks give themselves something of an exfoliation treatment, using the fine sand to remove barnacles and ectoparasites. Thanks to suction cup cameras, you can now have a whale-back view of what a cetacean spa looks like.
The whales were recorded carrying out this behavior in Gold Coast Bay in southeast Queensland, Australia. The team suggests in a new paper that the whales are specifically selecting suitable areas for this purpose while on their journeys south to cooler waters as part of their migration.
The study was published in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering.