A Drone Caught These Whales Singing as They Fished for Their Lunch

The marine mammals team up to make catching small fish easier.
Dec 16, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

When humpback whales are plying polar waterways, they’re constantly trying to fill up—sucking down as much as two tons of food a day. They need to pack on the pounds to support their 70,000-pound frame before migrating thousands of miles south to tropical waters to breed.

You'd think that with their massive mouths, humpbacks would search out the biggest fish they could swallow. But no, their diet is primarily made up of tiny shrimp and small fish they filter through their baleen plates.

And with hungry humpbacks on the lookout for the same food supply, you would expect that they would keep their distance from each other.

But take a look at this seagull-view footage, and it’s clear—humpbacks have a strategy all their own when it comes to fishing, and that strategy takes teamwork.

To execute the scheme, called bubble-net feeding, between four and 20 whales are needed. The group dives together, waiting below the school of fish that’s soon to become lunch. One whale breaks off from the group, circling below the fish and blowing bubbles at the same time. As the ring of bubbles rises around the fish, it spooks them and they naturally school up into tight balls.

Now comes the above-surface action. In unison, the rest of the whales lunge from below the school, mouths agape toward the surface, scarfing up the loads of fish in the process.

And thanks to the drone footage uploaded from AkXpro, we’re able to see, and hear, the humpback pod in Alaska's Prince William Sound coordinate the effort from above.