John & Anne Wiley

2015/09/09

Whale of a Time

There’s usually a time delay between one of our adventures, and getting organized to share some of it with you in a post here. Sometimes weeks even! So I’m glad to have caught a few minutes to share this expansion of my earlier Edhat post. Arriving at L52 we were treated to this whale feeding frenzy less than a mile offshore from the airport. We’ve never seen this “thrash feed” technique before.

9398 Thrash Feed

9398 Thrash Feed

Amazing to see them strategically working so effectively together. The top whale surfaced and blew first, rolling almost 90° to the left and thrashing left with a powerful tail fluke thrust to lunge suddenly to the right and down into the dense school of frightened fish. Then it blew out air to further freak the fish and drive some toward the lower whale in this pic (to its left).

9406 Thrash Feed

9406 Thrash Feed

That second whale then did the same maneuver and probably caught more fish while at the right you can see the effect their splashes had on the gathered birds who’d been picking off fish driven to the surface. Another technique was to swim at each other through a line of fish (darker area of the water) with an offset like this.

9430 Lancer Charge

9430 Lancer Charge

A solo method in deeper water was to come up from below and then dive back down into the school, a little more like the method used by pelicans. The tiny white dots seem to be fish driven to the surface.

9442 Dinner Diving

9442 Dinner Diving

We saw a use of bubble netting like this next group of four whales, and liked how birds in front of them scattered for safety while those behind converged for scraps.

9397 Bubble Net

9397 Bubble Net

Fascinating and thrilling to watch all these fishing techniques from a safe distance!

9388 Bubble Harvest

9388 Bubble Harvest

Sometimes a bird would venture too close and be surprised by the sudden plume of mist from a whale’s blow, as in this sequence.

9468 Bird Bath

9468 Bird Bath

In addition to a few seals and dolphins and innumerable birds, this scene had also attracted much cheering and shouting from the big holiday gathering on the beach as we learned after landing. But my fave pix of this amazing experience are of what looks to me like a pregnant female, who took a more sedate approach to collecting a few of the slower fish in the massive school.

9438 Quiet Snack

9438 Quiet Snack

I especially love the reflective mood of this one with ripples shimmering into the depths.

9418 Quiet Depth

9418 Quiet Depth

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