Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Whales Are Back!

Diving whales
Each year along the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, humpback whale sightings are few and far Mallotus villosus) is a vital part of the food web here, and it's responsible for nourishing not just the whales but the area's substantial seabird population, whose breeding season is timed to coincide with the caplin's spawning time. When the caplin arrive in their billions, so do the whales, intent on taking on close to a third of their body weight during the summer feeding season. When they're feeding, they concentrate completely on the task at hand until their principal food source arrives: the caplin (or capelin,

Humpback tail
On a recent trip out of Bay Bulls with Captain Wayne's Marine Excursions we spotted whales in just a few kilometres away from the shore -- a group that were actively feeding. We headed a little closer and stopped for a look. The whales were headed our way, staying at the surface briefly then diving to feed at depth. Several would surface at once, then dive within a few seconds of one another. As a result, there were ample opportunities for great ID shots of the tails' distinctive undersides. (See One Fluke at a Time, a post about humpback identification.)

Caplin after spawning
We spent nearly two hours observing at a respectful distance, on a near-perfect July day. When they neared the surface, the whales' white pectoral fins showed up, appearing green through the sea water. Proprietor Wayne Maloney's uncanny whale sense came through as always, and we were treated to a truly unforgettable experience.Here are a handful of images from our visit. What a day on the water!

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