2018 06-14 SB Channel
SURFACE LUNGE-FEEDING BLUE WHALES !!
The big news today was the presence of more than a dozen giant whales found surface lunge feeding at the same hot spot where these whales (blue whales and fin whales) have been watched consistently for the past month. We closely watch 14+ blue whales, 1+ fin whale, and 400 long-beaked common dolphins today. A high stratus layer developed some “sucker holes” of warm sun as the expedition progressed. The bright light in these holes illuminated the bright blue quality of the blue whales on the surface; this is a sight that must be seen.
It has been a few years since the summer krill explosion has reached the surface waters where the huge, open mouths of sideways giant whales could be seen all around the Condor Express. Their huge ventral pleats expanded on the surface as the whales moved forward, mouths open, and filled with krill-laden seawater. Each beast then expelled the seawater through their numerous baleen plates which retained the krill. The whale then rolled back, right-side-up. Online sources suggest an adult blue whale feeds on around 8,000 pounds of krill per day. This activity is certainly one of the natural wonders of the world.
The first group of 3 or so blue whales that we watched were feeding subsurface, some had long down times, but all 3 individuals were tail flukers. We moved east to find the remaining blue whales engaged in feeding. The numbers quoted in the first paragraph above have a (+) sign next to them. This refers to the many whales we saw all around the region but did not have time to closely watch.
Krill-eating phalaropes were common. At one point a flock of these little birds scattered as a blue whale hit the surface with its mouth wide open. Other life seen included several small flocks of sooty shearwaters (not in the krill area), and a lone, quick-moving, Minke whale that was probably not seen by many on board.
surface lunge-feeding blue whale is seen moving to the upper right corner. It's rostrum with upper jaw and ballen is just under the surface on the right. The water-filled and massive gular pouch, with external ventral grooves, is in the middle, and the left pectoral fin is aimed at the camera.
Here the upper jaw with baleen is visible beneath the surface of the clear water to the upper left. This surface lunge-feeding blue whale is moving from right to left as it engulfs a massive volume of krill-laden seawater. The rorqual grooves are expanded.
This is one of my favorite shots from the day. It features a slightly elevated left pectoral fin and lots of ventral "rorqual"grooves. I like the way the clear film of water that is washing over the grooves from the bottom of the photo helps magnify them.