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This trip was filled with peak wildlife experiences. And this is one for sure.

Humpback whales are normally out and about on their own. But sometimes they come together on an ad hoc basis to fish. In this case, 15 of them worked over a school of herring. And given how long they were at it, it must have been a big school of herring.

The way this works is that you see them all on the surface and then you see all the flukes in the air as the whales dive. One of them goes under the school of herring to chase them up to shallower water. Then one (more?) of them swim in a circle and blow bubbles to create the net. The herring are afraid of the bubbles, so they’re “contained.” Then one of the whales vocalizes. (I would have said “sings,” but apparently they only do that in Hawaii. Here they vocalize.) This apparently causes the herring to further panic and then all the whales swim up under the school with mouths open. And then they pop out on the surface, chomping their mouths closed. And it really seemed to me like they were high fiving with those fins.

And it may be hard to judge from the picture, but these are big animals. And they are tightly bunched for this exercise.  Would be very cool to be in the water and see it.


One Comment

  1. Very cool photo. It’s fascinating to see that fishing technique in operation.

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