Humpback whales ~ bubble-net feeding observed once more!

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Today’s Sightings: Humpback whales, Dall’s Porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Heron, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers and Gull species.

Our tour today departed in the afternoon, allowing time for most of the morning fog to dissipate. Feeling the emphasized heat from the blazing sun is somewhat unusual in this region, because typically a sea-breeze is present which welcomingly keeps our temperature comfortable. Vancouver Island is experiencing a heat wave therefore conditions are warmer than usual. Temperature plays a crucial role for salmon who are trying to head up rivers to lay their eggs. Spawning conditions need to be perfect and it is the combination of abnormally warm temperatures, very little rain and shallower streams that are effecting the success of the salmon. Not only do they need to lay their eggs, but they are required to get up the river in order to do so. They need deep enough water and the water needs to be at a certain temperature. And so the delicate balance of this eco-system continues to be challenged.

It was the Humpback whales that fascinated us throughout our tour today. One whale named ‘Lucky’ has adopted and perfected a feeding technique unlike the usual feeding behaviour we observe here – bubble net feeding. How extremely fascinating to know that Humpbacks learn and adopt feeding techniques, behaviour and even songs from other whales. The technical term is ‘learned behaviour’. Spiraling up towards the ocean surface, Lucky released bubbles, trapping bait fish within this newly formed bubble cylinder. A deep dive followed, as the whale descended downwards to place itself at the bottom of the tube ready to retrieve its catch. Now as it ascends upwards towards the surface once more, the whale opens its huge gaping jaw, the throat pleats spreading wide collecting the entire tube of fish along the way. This is truly dynamite and impressive to watch.

Seasmoke Whale Watching photo’s have been taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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