Clip of the Week – humpback whales lunge feeding

Clip of the Week

This week’s clip is an aerial shot of five humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) lunge feeding in a shoal of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), with some fish jumping out of the water. It was filmed in Troms, Norway, in January, by Espen Bergersen.

Lunge feeding

Lunge feeding involves the whales herding the fish into a tight group, then lunging into the tightly packed prey with their mouths open, engulfing huge amounts of fish and water. The water is then filtered out via the whales’ baleen plates, and the fish retained.

Espen said:

“Humpbacks, like orcas, work together in groups to catch herring, but the whales are probably not related to each other. Their hunting technique is also quite different. It is very exciting to follow a group of feeding humpback whales. You see the group do a synchronised dive, then you just have to wait. You never know when or where they come up again, or if there will be any action at all. But if the hunting is a success, the whales come to the surface like rockets with wide open mouths, filling up with herring and water. It’s a spectacular view!”