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Categories & Keywords

Subcategory:Marine Life
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:Alaska, bubble-net feeding, Humpback, Humpback whales, Inside Passage, Chatham Strait, Juneau, bubble-net, whales, bubblenet feeding
Photo Info

Dimensions5184 x 3456
Original file size15.5 MB
Image typeJPEG
Color spacesRGB
Humpback whales bubble-net feeding

Humpback Whales Breach and Bow 06

Humpback whales bubble-net feeding - Chatham Strait / Inside Passage outside of Juneau, Alaska

Even better than unicorns and rainbows is a humpback with a rainbow. And, here we were placed perfectly by our guide to line up the whale and the rainbow. I still think people are going to think this is "shopped" (meaning Photoshop) but it's not. To prove it, I've uploaded the entire sequence (which I enjoy looking at - almost "in motion" if you click through them with a bit of speed). It's a funny story actually but I'll let Jon tell it. He did an interview where he talked about "the shot that got away." Check out his interview "SIC 17 - Flying High in Hawaii."

Only performed by a small number of humpbacks, bubble-net feeding is a true joy to observe. One whale calls to the others and choreographs the dance to herd herring into a tight ball by blowing bubbles around them (effectively creating a "net" around the herring). Other whales use their pectoral fins ("pec flappers") to further scare the herring into an even tighter ball. When they're ready, the humpbacks swim through the center of the ball, gorging themselves and filling their food pouches on the bait ball. They filter the fish through their baleen plates and then erupt through the surface with an incredible display of strength and beauty.

I traveled to Juneau as part of an expedition guided by wildlife photographer Jon Cornforth. As a small group, we spent 9 days on a 42-foot Nordic Tug cruising the Inside Passage to find groups of humpbacks performing this cooperative feeding technique. Jon's skills and knowledge of the area gave us superb viewing and opportunities to witness this truly amazing sight.

For more information: Alaska Whale Foundation, humpback whale, Cornforth Photography Tours