Feeding Techniques of the Humpbacks

Thursday’s Whale Watch Cruises were pretty mellow. We’re still seeing lots of pods of Mom/Baby/Escort. These pods are interesting to watch as it’s often difficult to determine exactly who is leading the pod. Yesterday’s calves were rolling around a lot on the surface, and from our vantage point, it looked like their Moms were just trying to keep up with them. When we were lucky enough to see the escorts surface, they were usually in the rear, and the Moms most often were positioned between the escorts and their calves. We also saw a lot of spouts, dorsal fins, and flukes from lone whales. Since research has shown that females without calves leave the breeding grounds after mating (presumably successfully), we’re guessing that a lot of these loners are males trying to optimize mating opportunities. We did see some splashes more distant from us – some of these were caused by whales breaching, and some by peduncle throws. When we were able to deploy our hydrophones, we heard lots of loud clear songs, and lots of other background songs, so we know there are still plenty of whales around South Kohala.
Mahalo and have a great weekend!
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day:Researchers watching Humpbacks feeding in Stellwegan Bay (off the coast of Massachusetts) documented a variety of previously unknown feeding techniques along the seafloor. Humpbacks there weren’t just bubble-netting. They were spending a lot of their feeding time totally submerged. With the aid of “Critter Cams” the researchers were able to document three distinct feeding approaches: simple side-rolls, side-roll inversions, and repetitive scooping. Why does this matter? Now that we know how Humpbacks move when they’re underwater, we can take steps to reduce their vulnerability to entanglement to bottom set fishing gear.

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