July 7, 2004
I began my watch at 0600 this morning and by 0603, we had sighted our first of many humpbacks on what turned out to be a glorious day on the Inside Passage. Both small boats were deployed and all scientists were engaged in capturing fluke shots or biopsies during a very full but rewarding day. Surrounded by the spectacular scenery of glaciers, gushing waterfalls and nearly cloudless skies, we catalogued over a hundred individual humpbacks in this single day working up Chatham Strait.
Towards dusk, we had a wonderful view of an interesting humpback behavior, that of "bubble-feeding." In this technique, the humpbacks create a net, or curtain of bubbles, in which they surround their prey such as krill or small herring. The humpback will then "lunge" upward, with mandible wide open, scooping up its prey in one fell swoop. Other behavior displays included breaching, waving of pectoral fins, rolling, and tail slapping. I will have fond memories of this cetacean playground!
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