Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Species Account/Megaptera novaeangliae

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Megaptera novaeangliae (Humpback Whale)

Where found: The Humpback Whale lives in oceans and seas around the world, and is regularly sought out by whale-watchers.

Description: The Humpback is a very large whale. It is well known for its breaching (leaping out of the water), its unusually long front fins, and its complex whale song. The species feeds only in summer and lives off fat reserves during winter. It is an energetic feeder, taking krill and small schooling fish, such as herring, capelin and sand lance. It will hunt fish by direct attack or by stunning them by hitting the water with its flippers or flukes. Its most inventive feeding technique is called bubble net fishing. A group of whales will blow bubbles while swimming to create a visual barrier against fish, while one or more whales in the group make vocalizations that drive the fish against the wall. The bubble wall is then closed, encircling the fish, which are confined in an ever-tighter area. The whales then suddenly swim upwards and through the bubble net, mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in one gulp. This technique can involve a ring of bubbles up to 30 m (100 ft) in diameter and the cooperation of a dozen animals at once. It is one of the more spectacular acts of collaboration and cooperation among marine mammals.


Humpback Whale underwater shot.jpg