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2003 - Humpback Whale Research Expedition in Chatham Sound, BC

ANON’s expedition to Chatham sound focused primarily on Humpback whale feeding behaviors, although we were also interested in identification and habitat discovery.

Chatham Sound is on the eastern edge of the Dixon Entrance – which forms the aquatic border between British Columbia and Alaska.

The ANON set sail from Victoria, BC, and sailed the entire coast of British Columbia, charting the locations of humpback whale feeding areas.
Map of Chatham Sound

Humpback photo id in Dixon Entrance Obtaining humpback whale identification shots can be quite difficult, especially so since we are dedicated to being 100% unobtrusive.

It can take several hours just to get one shot. Always under sail, and always a fair distance away from the whales so as not to interrupt their natural behaviors, we are always excited when the whales surface, and then perform a photo-op fluke-up dive.

Still, we are dedicated to our cause, and so we take the extra time needed to gather the data we desire.

Once we arrived at Chatham Sound, we focused our attention on a small number of feeding groups in order to learn more about their feeding behaviors.

The most common feeding behavior we see is called ‘lunge feeding’ – where the whales ‘scoop’ their prey at the surface of the water. They ‘lunge’ towards the surface of the water, sometimes from below, sometimes from the side, taking huge amounts of water and perhaps an entire school of sardines in their open mouths. Then, using their tongue, they push the water out through their baleen – capturing the tiny fish (or shrimp-like creatures called ‘krill’).
humpback lunge feeding

Humpback photo id in Chatham Sound Continuing to search out additional Humpback feeding areas, we discovered a pair of humpbacks which have been known to feed together for the past 8 years.

What makes this pair so unique is that they are among the few who practice a feeding behavior called 'bubble-netting'.

Bubble-netting is one of the most amazing displays of animal intelligence on earth, and few people ever get the chance to observe this magnificent display.

Cooperative groups (and in our case here, just 2 whales) - encircle a school of herring (or sardines) and blow a ring of bubbles around their school's perimeter.

This circle of bubbles corrals the school together, and then the whales shoot to the surface, their mouths wide open and filling the area inside the bubble-net, capturing nearly all of the fish within the net.

If you look closely at the photo to the right, you can see the white circle of bubbles surrounding the whales.

Proof positive that ANON's non-invasive research techniques really work!
humpback lunge feeding

Back to 2004 - Orca Killer Whale Research Expedition in Nootka Sound, BC   |   Learn about 2002 - Humpback Whale Research Expedition in Maui, Hawaii

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