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Circle of Bubbles from Bubble-Net Feeding Humpback Whales
Humpback Whales Routinely Perform for Alaskan Tourists
The humpback whale is the type most frequently seen swimming or feeding close to shore along the southeastern coast of Alaska. Cruise ship guests see many whales on Inside Passage cruises, but the largest numbers of humpbacks seem to often be concentrated in Frederick Sound near Petersburg.
When beginning to dive, humpback whales often lift their flukes (tails) out of the water when they dive deeply, exposing a distinctive pattern of black and white, which is used by biologists to identify individual animals. When feeding, humpbacks appear to be frolicking, rolling and blowing in groups. They also breach the surface frequently, doing huge belly flops as they slam back into the sea.
When feeding, humpbacks may stay submerged for as long as 30 minutes, but most dives do not last longer than 15 minutes. After diving, humpbacks rest on the surface, blowing every few seconds. One phenomenon that fascinates everyone is "bubble-net"... feeding. The whales work cooperatively to trap fish in a huge circle of bubbles. Then, they zip upwards through the school of trapped fish with their huge mouths wide open. The water filters out through the comb-like baleen lining the mouth, but the fish are trapped. Amazing to watch!
Alaskan humpbacks winter in Hawaii, but they do not feed anywhere but in Alaska. While moving to and from Hawaii, the huge mammals do not feed. They breed and bear their young in Hawaii, but do not feed there, either. Since adults range from 40-55 feet in length and weigh many tons, they certainly have to feed all summer long!
This circle of bubbles arises from bubble-net feeding humpback whales just before the group breaks the surface of the water.Continue to 2 of 22 below.
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Bubble-Net Feeding Humpback Whales in AlaskaContinue to 3 of 22 below.
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Bubble-Net Feeding Humpback Whales in AlaskaContinue to 4 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whales Bubble-Net FeedingContinue to 5 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whales Feeding near Small Cruise Ship
These feeding humpback whales came very near the small ship the Wilderness Discoverer of InnerSea Discoveries.Continue to 6 of 22 below.
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Feeding Humpback Whales
These humpback whales appear to be frolicking, but they are actually feeding.Continue to 7 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whales Bubble-Net FeedingContinue to 8 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale Fin and FlukeContinue to 9 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale FlukeContinue to 10 of 22 below.
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Spyhopping Humpback Whale
When whales are spyhopping, they appear to be checking out their surroundings. It almost looks like they are bobbing up and down or treading water.Continue to 11 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale in Frederick Sound, AlaskaContinue to 12 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale Tail (Fluke) in AlaskaContinue to 13 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale Fluke in AlaskaContinue to 14 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whales Rolling and Blowing in Frederick Sound, AlaskaContinue to 15 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale Fluke (Tail)Continue to 16 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whales Blowing in AlaskaContinue to 17 of 22 below.
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Humpback WhaleContinue to 18 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whales in the Inside Passage of AlaskaContinue to 19 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whales in AlaskaContinue to 20 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale in Frederick Sound, AlaskaContinue to 21 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale FlukeContinue to 22 of 22 below.
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Humpback Whale Splash