Written by: Marisa, Lead Naturalist
Quite consistently as we are on the water, we have been seeing amazing displays from our Humpbacks. A favorite of these being lunge and flick feeding. Surface feeding of any kind paints a beautiful picture of trophic interaction between a plethora of animals.
In this area of the Salish Sea our Humpbacks are primarily feeding on small schooling fish such as the herring, anchovies, and sardines. These small fish are not only what makes a bulk of our Humpbacks diet but also are a primary food source for our Seagulls as well. When approaching a bait ball, it is often marked with hovering, swooping, and swimming birds; the cormorants, seagulls, and common murres gather in the hundreds to exploit this resource. If you look hard enough, you will quite often see humpbacks approaching blows.
When a Humpback decides to make the move in on the fish, it will quickly propel itself with a flick of its fluke, lower jaw trailing under the water and upper jaw barely peeking out from above the surface. This fast movement will force the ventral pleats to expand in hopes of allowing more room for prey. Once happy with the dense ball of fish in its mouth, the humpback will snap the jaw shut and subsequently the baleen, letting the ventral pleats naturally contract, pushing the water out leaving the delicious herring.
All of these feeding behaviours are being seen consistently on our fall tours. Come on board and #ExpereinceTheWild for yourself!