Scientists are perplexed by unusual sightings of hundreds of humpback whales together

Humpback whales are, as far as we know, typically loners. Sometimes, they'll gather in groups as large as 20, usually for feeding or migration purposes.

For reasons yet unknown to science, the sea creatures have, as of late, been assembling in packs of up to 200 or so, reports Popular Science.

Stunning humpback whales in the wild

Stunning humpback whales in the wild
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Stunning humpback whales in the wild
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: A Humpback whale in mid lunge, feeding on Bunker off NYC's Rockaway Beach on September 15, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Artie Raslich/Getty Images)
SEA OF CORTEZ, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO - 2015/02/20: Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) slapping the pectoral fin on the water in the Bahia de La Paz, Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Humpback mother and calf.Baja Coast MexicoThe 2 whales were swimming along the Baja coast of Mexico, in the Pacific Ocean just outside Cabo
Humpback whale calf with mother shot in Vava'u Tonga in clear water. Sun is sparkling on the whales back.
Pod of humpback whales Maui, Hawaii at sunset.
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USA, Alaska, Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaengliae) sending up plumes of mist while group feeding in Chatham Strait on summer evening
(photo: Pat Hawks/Flickr)

Also strange is where they're doing it -- off the coast of South Africa. The behemoth ocean dwellers typically favor Antarctic waters for feeding, notes New Scientist.

One theory is that the food supply in their new stomping ground is especially lush.

SEE ALSO: 20-foot-long 'hairy' sea creature washes up on the sea shore in the Philippines

Another hinges on the whales' extraordinary population comeback in recent decades.

Prior to becoming a protected species in 1996, the animals were hunted with zeal, resulting in a 90% loss in their numbers.

Ken Findlay, a researcher from South Africa's Cape Peninsula University of Technology, told New Scientist, "It's possible that the behavior was occurring but just not where it was visible. Because there were so few of them, we may not have seen it."

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