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Humpback Whale Video: A Whale’s Eye View of Mealtime

September 16, 2012

Humpback whales are an endangered species that inhabit all of the world’s oceans. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, there are now over 80,000 humpback whales worldwide. Humpback whales can be seen locally around Vancouver Island from mid-August until November, during their annual migration from feeding grounds in Alaska to breeding grounds in Hawaii.Humpback whales are famous for their knobbly heads and haunting songs, but what makes them truly unique is their unusual feeding behaviour. Humpback whales use a cooperative hunting technique, known as bubble net feeding or lunge feeding, to corral fish and herd them to the surface.

Each whale has its own role in this complex hunting process: one blows a net of bubbles around the school of fish to keep them from escaping, others use vocalizations to scare or confuse the fish, and others swim to herd the fish upwards. Once the fish are at the surface, all of the whales open their huge mouths and lunge at the “bait balls,” gulping as many fish as they possibly can.

Bubble net feeding has been documented for decades, but it was only recently that scientists were able to capture an underwater scene of this extraordinary event. Thanks to a little gadget known as a Crittercam, we have a whale’s eye view of mealtime for a group of humpbacks in Chatham Strait, Alaska.
 

 

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