Gentle Giants-Humpback Whales Bubble Feeding Alaska
Bubble-net feeding is a cooperative feeding method used by groups of humpback whales. This behavior is not instinctual, it is learned; not every population of humpbacks knows how to bubble net feed. Humpback whales use vocalizations to coordinate and efficiently execute the bubble net so they all can feed. As the group circles a school of small fish such as salmon, krill, or herring, they use a team effort to disorient and corral the fish into a "net" of bubbles. One whale will typically begin to exhale out of their blowhole at the school of fish to begin the process. More whales will then blow bubbles while continuing to circle their prey. The size of the net created can range from three to thirty metres (9.8 to 98.4 ft) in diameter. One whale will sound a feeding call, at which point all whales simultaneously swim upwards with mouths open to feed on the trapped fish. As the whales swim up to the surface to feed they can hold up to 15,000 gallons of sea water in their mouths. Humpback whales have 14 to 35 throat grooves that run from the top of the chin all the way down to the navel. These grooves allow the mouth to expand. When they swallow they stream the water out through their baleen as they ingest the fish. The fish that they ingest are also a source of hydration for them. Bubble netting is an advanced and necessary feeding method developed by humpback whales to feed multiple mouths at one time.