Other Sea Animals
The large whales including:
Humpback, Finback, Minke, Blue, and Right Whales feed on very tiny fish.
Obviously a 37 ton whale needs to eat a lot of little fish every day and they
can't catch them one by one. Just like human fishermen they need a net or
strainer to pull through the water concentrating the fish.
their mouth as a giant strainer. The upper jaw of the Humpback Whale is lined
with bony plates called baleen that hang vertically like vertical blinds. The
spaces between the plates are small allowing water to pass through, but not the
food. The throat skin is pleated (except in Right Whales) and can expand to hold water and
prey. The whale swims through the schools of fish with its mouth open taking in
both fish and water. The throat pleats expand to make more room. Then the whale
closes its mouth and pushes the water out through the baleen plates trapping
the fish inside to be swallowed.
In the above photograph you can just see a hint
of the baleen plates that hang from the upper jaw.
In this picture taken by Peter Trull you
can again see the baleen plates on the upper jaw. The birds
are here for anything that falls out.
Leonard Medlock Humpback Whale head with
Leonard Medlock photo of Humpback Whale
with distended throat groves full of water and fish.
different tactics to catch fish. On of the most interesting ways
they feed is to use a cloud of bubbles to concentrate the prey. The
whale or whales swim underwater releasing clouds of bubbles that
rise to the surface in a dense cloud. Perhaps the tiny fish try to
hide in the cloud of bubbles or maybe the bubbles just confuse the
fish. The whale then swims through the bubble clouds catching the fish. The Humpback Whales of the Gulf of Maine are very
practiced in this behavior. Whale watchers from Australia told
me they had never witnessed this feeding method.
the picture above, several whales are under the water. One or more is releasing
the clouds of bubbles which you can see on the surface as rings. The birds seem
to know something is coming because they are congregating over the
Two whales have swum through the bubbles with
their mouths open. They are now at the surface closing their jaws to trap the fish. A
few fish will escape and so here come the birds for their share.
These pictures were taken by Emmalee Tarry from a whale watching
boat on the south end of Stellwagen Bank.