How Do Humpback Whales Hunt?
While Humpback Whales employ several hunting techniques both individually and as a group (pod), their most dramatic feeding method is surely bubble net feeding. Bur first, let’s look at some quick facts about this incredible mammal.
The Humpback Whale
- A full size adult can range from: 48 to 62.5 ft (14.6 to 19 m)
- Weight is approximately: 36 metric tons or 80,000 pounds
- Humpback whales can dive for up to 30 minutes to a depth of 500-700 feet (150-210 m)
- Humpback whales normally swim 3-9 mph (4.8-14 km/h), but can go up to 15-16.5 mph (24-26.5 km/h) in bursts when in danger
- Humpback whales have a life expectancy of 45-50 years
Humpback whales (like all baleen whales) only feed in the summer, living off their fat reserves in the winter. Their diet consists of: tiny crustaceans (e.g., krill), plankton, and small fish (including herring, mackerel, capelin, and sandeel). During feeding season, Humpback whales can eat anywhere between 3,000 – 5,5500 pounds (1,360 kg – 2495 kg) of the animals above per day.
Bubble Net Feeding in three easy steps:
1. A pod of whales blows bubbles while swimming in circles to create a ring of bubbles (the ring can be up to 100 feet or 30 meters in diameter)
2. The ring encircles the fish, which are too scared to cross the bubbles. The whales swim in a smaller and smaller circles, tightening the ring and making high pitched sounds to confuse the fish
3. The whales then suddenly swim upward through the bubble net, mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp
The video below is an awesome demonstration of Humpback whales bubble net feeding on a school of herring
In case the video above is ever take down due to copyright claims, similar feeding videos can be found at: