I’ll never stop finding it fascinating how unique different species are from us. They have their own ways of communicating, getting around, making shelter for themselves, and even gathering food. The diversity in how species live their lives is intriguing.
Something I’d say is pretty neat pertaining to the animal kingdom is how humpback whales consume their food. As a kid, I learned that whales, when hungry, swim with their mouths open, and whatever unlucky critter happens to be in the path of their large, open mouth becomes their dinner. It sounds like an easy (and sort of lazy) way to satisfy hunger, but at the same time, pretty smart! But after seeing recent footage of humpback whales working hard gathering salmon in their mouths using their flippers, I was impressed.
The footage, which has apparently never been filmed previously, was captured along the coast of the Pacific Northwest thanks to drone technology.
Watching the video, we see the whales speedily swimming in massive circles, flapping around their flippers, and opening their mouths for a tasty treat (the salmon, of course), which their flippers help guide into their mouths. The whole process is just so fascinating that words can’t do it justice!
At first, I was a little confused by their erratic swimming behavior during the feeding frenzy. Experts would tell you that their reasoning for aggressively swimming was to kind of corral the fish in place, and by doing so very rapidly, the splashes of water along with the bubbles releasing from their blowholes would temporarily impair the fishes’ vision just enough to give the whales an advantage. This way, the salmon would be less likely to get away from their hungry predators.
Interestingly, experts aren’t sure if other humpback whales exhibit this same behavior or if it is only unique among the whales shown in the clip. Chances are, it’s a humpback whale thing that we just barely found out about. Either that or the whales in the video were extra happy to come across a little surplus of young salmon recently released by the Hidden Falls Hatchery off Baranof Island in Alaska, whose goal it is to save the salmon population. Unlucky for the hatchery but lucky for the whales!
Either way, Madison Kosma and her fellow team of researchers, who have actually witnessed the frenzy dozens of times in person, were happy to have gotten the rare occurrence on video.
“Thanks to the unique situation at the hatchery, and thanks to new technologies such as drones, we were actually able to document it,” Kosma said.
Check out the footage for yourself below!