Best Viewed Large—thanks!
Lunging to the surface, a group of at least 12 humpback whales gulps massive quantities of herring and seawater. Humpback whales are baleen whales whose feeding techniques involve opening their massive maws to engulf their prey (tiny shrimplike krill or baitfish such as herring and capelin) as well as seawater. This results in highly distended throat pleats that whales retract in order to squeeze out the seawater. The herring are trapped in the humpback whale’s baleen plates upon which the humpback whale uses its massive tongue to scoop its fishy meal down its gullet. One can see the brushy baleen plates hanging from the top of these whales’ mouths. Humpback whales eat an estimated ton (2000 pounds!) of food each day when they are on their rich feeding grounds. Incidentally, the humpback whale’s esophagus is small so attempting to swallow anything larger than a grapefruit would choke this large mammal.
Finally, the following short video represents why I adore humpback whales. Please forgive my humble, awkward attempts to create video footage of the whales. I think I need a proper HD video camera plus a non-rocking boat in addition to videographraphy lessons. Next time I’ll stick to a DSLR but in the meantime, please enjoy this tribute to my favorite big beasties of the deep.
Tebenkof Bay along Kuiu Island in South Chatham Strait, The Inside Passage, SE Alaska, USA
July 8, 2010
Canon 7D, Canon 100-400mm lens, shutter 1/2000, f/6.3, exposure bias +0.33, shutter priority, focal length 210mm, ISO 400