Summer Feeding Print

Each Summer, Humpbacks gorge themselves on tiny shrimp-like creatures and small fish in the nutrient rich waters near each pole.

They are for the most part seasonal feeders.

Krill_ Eggs Tiny Fish

Can you imagine eating for only six or seven months a year and living off reserves for the remainder? When they are feeding, they consume about a ton of food each day helping them to build the blubber reserves needed for the rest of the year.

Humpbacks feed by taking in large mouthfuls of both prey and water. In Newfoundland they are after the capelin, the fish depicted below. Sometimes they feed near the surface where they can be seen lunge feeding. As they break the surface, their throat expands tremendously, gorged with both food and water. As the whales close their mouths, they squeeze the water out the sides of the mouth through a built in filter called baleen. Once the water is strained through the baleen, only the food remains in the mouth. It is then swallowed with the help of a massive, two-ton tongue.

 

Humpbacks can concentrate their prey using a strategy called bubble-netting, where they cooperate in groups of 20 or more. They begin at the surface, blowing to replace air reserves before diving. They locate the prey and begin herding them toward the surface. They emit a feeding call which scares the prey into a tighter group. And to ensure the concentration of the prey, one whale begins to release air bubbles through its blowhole while spiraling towards the surface. This results in a circle of bubbles rising towards the surface, entrapping the prey. Rising through the middle of the bubble ring, they lunge at the prey upon reaching the surface.