A great 8 hour tour in Katmai Fjord National Park out of Seward. Heading to the N W Glacier the captain saw several boats around a location where a group of Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were Bubble-net feeding in Resurrection Bay.
Humpback whales only feed for six months of the year while they are in the rich seas of Alaska and in particular the Kenai Fjords National Park. For the other six months of a year they go south to warmer waters in order to focus on breeding. In fact once a calf is born the mother feeds it with her rich milk and will not eat herself until she is back in Alaskan waters.
What is Bubble-net Feeding?
Bubble-net feeding is a hunting strategy requiring close cooperation of the whales in a group for a mass feeding. In the group of whales one calls for the dive. As a group they dive well below a shoal of fish. Another of the group calls for the bubbles. The whales blow bubbles from their blowholes and swim in decreasing circles. The fish are trapped in the centre of the circles and are forced up to the surface by the wall of bubbles and the loud noise made by the bubbles. Yet another whale calls for the feed move whereby the whales swim to the surface in the centre of their bubble-net, with their mouths wide open, catching tons of fish.
Our captain told us to watch the birds. The circling gulls are the first to see where the bubbles are coming to the surface, which tells us where the whales will break surface. He was concerned that the number of boats might be causing stress for the whales so he moved us on to the glacier and planned to revisit the whales on our return. Luckily for us this enabled us to witness a magnificent glacier calving (another blog will deal with that). If we had stayed with the bubble-net feeding we would have missed this.
So this was our return to the Humpback whales and their bubble feeding. This was a particularly inclement and grey day so I have converted the image to black and white in order to add some contrast and maybe historic feel to the image.
Gear: Nikon Z 8, Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S, Nikkor Z TD-1.4x, Delkin Digital Film
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