Bubble Net Feeding


Wednesday’s whales were playing hide and seek with us for awhile for our one and only Whale Watch Cruise. On our Wake Up With the Whales Cruise, we departed from Kawaihae. Captain Keno saw some spouts to the south, so we headed that way. When he got to where he thought the whales might be, he stopped the boat and we waited. Lo and behold, two adult humpbacks surfaced almost right next to us (Captain Keno certainly stopped us at the right place)!. These big adults were spending a lot of time underwater, but we got good views of them 3 different times. Then we headed back north where we had seen a couple of other spouts. This time they were from Mom and baby. We watched them for a bit, and then an escort surfaced too. And what’s more…this may have been the same escort we saw on Monday, because we recognized those bright white pectoral fins as he swam past the boat.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day: Though we don’t get to witness it here (at least not very often), Humpbacks have devised a very creative way to feed called “Bubble Net” feeding. A cooperative pod will dive under schools of krill, herring or other small fish. One whale will begin swimming in circles, and blowing bubbles out of his (or her) blowholes. Bubbles, as they rise, expand, which creates a “net” entrapping the prey. Once all the little fish or krill are balled together inside the circle of bubbles, the whales will take turns lunging through the middle of the circle to gulp their lunch. The whole process is accompanied by lots of vocalizations, culminating in a loud “shriek” right as the bubble net reaches the surface and right before the whales surface…we’re pretty sure the loud noises help to scare the fish upward and further compact the “bait ball”.

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