© Five Star Whale Watching/ Katie Smith. Image — One of two Humpback Whales at Race Rocks seen lunge-feeding this morning, with its baleen and ventral pleats visible.
Lunge-Feeding Humpbacks and Bigg’s Orcas
We had a great day witnessing some magnificent giants and top predators; two species of whales! We all had a fantastic experience on the water.
We began our journey by heading west out of the harbour. At an area known as Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, we encountered two very amazing animals! There were two Humpback Whales lunge-feeding. This means that the whales were using their strong tails to create bursts of speed for which their open mouths could gulp prey-filled water. Humpback Whales do not have teeth, and instead filter small invertebrates and schooling fish from the water using hair-like baleen (see above image), that hangs from the roof of their mouth.
We could clearly see these massive animal’s mouths and throats expand as they took in this water. Humpbacks have ventral pleats on their throat (20-50) that allow them to take in tremendous amounts of water and prey (see above image). The Humpbacks even surfaced high enough that we could see their eyes! The bumps all over the whales’ heads are called tubercles, and serve sensory purposes. The whales were so active we even saw long pectoral flippers and tail flukes rise out of the water. It was amazing to see these massive gentle giants as they lunged and fed so actively!
As our trip progress, we continued searching for animals. We were fortunate to come across another whale species! This was a family of Bigg’s, or transient, orcas. There were three individuals and it was remarkable to see these top predators together in the wild. Bigg’s orcas commonly feed on prey like Harbour seals, Sea lions and porpoise. Their characteristic black and white markings were clear as they surfaced together.
Today was a fantastic day witnessing some feeding whales and an orca family!
To view more images from today’s trip, click on this link below: