Another amazing day offshore, the morning we were surrounded by feeding whales and in the afternoon by breaching whales. We had groups of whales feeding at the surface in the morning with kickfeeding, bubble cloud feeding, bubble net feeding, dragging, and lunging. We even had Whisk’s calf traveling with a mature male Tunguska, mimicking his kickfeeding behavior. Feeding behaviors can be learned from whales other than a calf’s mother, especially with regard to feeding style.
The water was so thick with bait, we even had orange patches of plankton.
In the afternoon, we headed to the same area and while the whales were stil numerous, the behavior changed dramatically. Whales were breaching, we even had a triple breach! We also got to see flipper slapping and lob tailing.
Humpback whales identified, included: Cajun + calf, Whisk + calf, Perseid + calf, Columbia + calf, Tunguska, Venom, Soot, Fragment, Hancock, Canopy, Abrasion, Pele, Lariat
August 11, 2010
Today we had a beautiful sunny day with light winds. We traveled to the SE corner of Stellwagen Bank where we sighted several Humpback whales traveling pretty quickly alongside our boat. As we travelled along with these whales, we soon came to a small group of whales who were feeding at the surface. These whales were kick-feeding, where a whale will slap its tail flukes on the surface of the water near a school of fish (probably sand-lance). This forceful slap confuses or stuns the whale’s prey, allowing the whale to dive down below the fish and easily engulf them.
After several minutes, our boat was suddenly surrounded by 15-20 Humpback whales who were all feeding! We observed more kick-feeding behavior as well as another feeding technique used by Humpbacks called bubble cloud feeding. In bubble cloud feeding, whale will produce a cloud of bubbles at the surface near a school of fish; these bubbles also confuse and clump the prey together so the whale can engulf them. We also observed lunge feeding, where a whale will surface quickly with its mouth open, lunging across the water and engulfing its prey.
As the feeding frenzy continued we saw several whales with their mouths wide open and we were able to get excellent looks at their baleen and their ventral throat pleats, which are called rorquals. It was incredible to see how wide these animals are able to expand their mouths to take in as much food and water as possible.
At the end of our trip we also saw a couple of breaches, where a whale will jump completely out of the water! A beautiful and amazing day whale watching!