How humpback whales are able to capture large amounts of fish?

Humpback whales feeding on fish with wide mouth open.

Interesting facts about humpback whales 

What do humpback whales eat?

The humpbacks feed primarily on sand lance, a small fast-swimming bait-fish.

How much does a humpback eat?

It takes several bites to fill a stomach that holds 1,300 pounds (590 kg).

How is this possible?

In order to capture them in sufficient numbers, the humpback uses a strategy known as bubble clouding.

The whale releases a blast of bubbles underwater that surfaces as a large, light-green slick.

Just what this does is not known.

Maybe it confuses or concentrates the sand lance or disguises the whale.

Whatever it does, it works.

Some 10 or 20 seconds after the bubble cloud appears on the surface, the whale comes up in the center of the slick with mouth agape, as you’ve just see in the picture above

The series of pleats on the throat expand as the water poured into his lower jaw.

These pleats extend down to the middle of the belly and are separated from the body by a wall of muscle and connective tissue.

When they balloon out with the in rushing flood, they form a very large storage basin for both water and prey.

Next, as the mouth partially closes, the muscles in the pleats contract like an accordion.

At the same time the tongue exerts pressure, and the water is pushed out of the whale’s mouth.

But the small fish stay behind, strained out by the baleen plates.

Humpback whale bubble net

Humpback whale making bubbles in the water.

The bubble clouds used by the humpbacks on would not work in Alaskan waters where the krill are not densely concentrated.

There the humpbacks use a bubble net to concentrate and trap their prey.

The “ingenious hunter solves the problem of herding scattered morsels into a bite-size feast by blowing a bubble ‘net.’

Like a giant undersea spider spinning its web, the humpback begins perhaps fifty feet deep, forcing bursts of air through its blowhole while swimming in an upward spiral.

Big bubbles, followed by a mist of tiny ones, rise to create a cylindrical screen that concentrates krill and small fish.

Bubbles and food pop to the surface, followed by the gaping mouth of the whale as it emerges in the center of its net.