Humpback Whales feeding on bait balls – a phenomenal sight!

IMG_1623 IMG_1636 IMG_1662 IMG_1694 IMG_1738 IMG_1751 IMG_1783 IMG_1784 IMG_1803 IMG_1806 IMG_1894 IMG_1899 IMG_1910 IMG_1923 IMG_1927 IMG_1935Today has to be one of the most precious days of our season whale watching, possibly because it was our last tour of the season, but more likely because of the utmost remarkable feeding behaviour of numerous Humpback Whales in the area, especially that of “Slash” and her calf “Stitch”. What a fabulous day we all shared, all of us intent on seeing whales in the wild and on seeing the natural beauty that abounds in the waterways of Blackfish Sound and the Plumper Islands. When departing on our tour this morning the wind had lessened greatly from last nights storm, the rain had ceased and it looked to be a beautiful day with even a promise of sunshine. Making our way into Weynton Passage it was not long before we caught our first glimpse of a Humpback Whale blow and then soon more, there were three we sighted down in Blackfish Sound, one behind us with two more out towards Donegal Head.  A rainbow appeared in the vicinity of Donegal Head, perfect in its timing for us to see when the lighting suddenly changed and became just right for the rainbow to form, it was a brilliant start to our tour! We carried on towards Bold Head where yet another Humpback Whale was sighted and then two more that we identified as being “Slash” and her calf “Stitch”. With the current still ebbing we observed the whales moving around in circles, some whales were near while others were a distance away and we so enjoyed it all. The sun appeared, lighting our way in its brilliant fashion and Gulls, Common Murres and Rhinoceros Auklets began assembling in large numbers and the sound effect of their chorus callings, especially that of the Gulls, were quite remarkable. Suddenly, within moments, change arrived in the waterways, the tide had slackened and the flood began and almost simultaneously, began the frenzied behaviour of birds and whales together feeding. It was phenomenal, exciting and breathtaking to see the energy of the whales and birds, all of them focussed upon the most basic of their needs, to eat! With the appearance of “Slash” and “Stitch” our attention turned to them and rightfully so as the pair of them commenced feeding, both of them together, lunging through the centre of a herring ball, it was spectacular and immensely moving. We all watched spellbound and in awe as they moved about the area, with Slash a distance away from her calf, feeding through a bait ball where birds had gathered, while Stitch worked back and forth through the waters where a previous ball had been. It was enlightening and inspiring our learning and gaining knowledge from this pair: a mother and her calf, both of them feeding, the mother teaching, the calf learning, both of them side by side for now, it was profoundly wonderful for us all to witness this precious moment of learning in our lifetime. A spontaneous full breach nearby us, by either Slash or another whale feeding nearby, the image of which remains fully imprinted in all of our minds was simply amazing to see and contributed greatly to our enjoyment and wonder today. Also seen today: Stellar Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Red-necked Phalaropes, Pelagic Cormorants, Sooty Shearwaters, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Mew, Bonapartes, Herring and Glaucous-winged Gulls.

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