Humpback Calf Filter Feeding Secrets

A remarkable tour this morning as a Humpback Calf taught us the filter feeding secrets of our baleen whales. Swimming directly towards us this outgoing mother and calf pod were looking to interact and it wasn’t long before both were swimming alongside our vessel. The calf then proceeded to “lunge feed” on the surface even though there were no fish and he was not feeding, we were learning the secrets of this fantastic filter feeding system. Opening his mouth wide and allowing the ocean water to flood into his mouth and expand his throat will allow this calf to take in much more krill in the near future. Today was simply practice though and we watched on with much excitement to be witnessing this very special behaviour and looking at the tiny baleen of this beautiful young calf. This behaviour continued until they had covered a lot of ground and moved towards two other mother and calf pods resting in only eight meters of shallow and protected water perfect for a Humpback calf playground.

Three mothers and three calves all joined together in one big playgroup under the sun as we soaked up the magnificent conditions that were so calm and clear we could see below the surface and into their watery world. The outgoing mother and calf whom we had met first were definitely the life of the party as mum gently pec slapped and encouraged her calf to copy her as she rolled right over so her belly was pointing towards the sky. The other calves thought that this was great fun and also tried rolling onto their backs, however they are still learning to control their momentum so needed up rolling completely over instead! We had joined the pod and as we sat quietly and observed the mothers and calves slowly moved towards our vessel and right underneath our bow showing incredible trust. Eventually it was time for them to continue resting and feeding their calves and it was amazing to watch the gentle separation as each mother seemed to politely move a few hundred meters away before stopping completely still and both mother and calf moved into a sleeping mode.

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