Humpback Whales Bubblenet Feeding, Juneau, Alaska


We were very fortunate to see Humpbacks bubble net feeding when Aditya (5 years old) and I went on the glacier/whale photography tour while Gowri took a Helicopter to the Taku glacier for Gowri's 40th birthday cruise in 2014. The humpback has the most diverse feeding repertoire of all whales. Its most inventive technique is known as bubble net feeding and they employ this in Juneau at certain times of year; a group of whales swims in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of prey. The shrinking ring of bubbles encircles the school and confines it in an ever-smaller cylinder. This ring can begin at up to 30 metres (98 ft) in diameter and involve the cooperation of a dozen animals. Using a crittercam attached to a whale's back, researchers found that some whales blow the bubbles, some dive deeper to drive fish toward the surface, and others herd prey into the net by vocalizing. The whales then suddenly swim upward through the "net", mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp. Plated grooves in the whale's mouth allow the creature to easily drain all the water initially taken in. We saw this pattern repeat over 8 times! We got closeups like the shot above. You can see fish in the picture above if you look closely. We also got shots of the tails as they dove down to do it again (Click). We also got wide angle shots of the entire group popping up very close to our boat. Sometime they would pop up all around our boat. Here you can see the matriach flying out of the water while other whales have their mouths gaping open (Click) (Hi-Res) . Adiya got great photo practice!



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