Hello, friends. I've been busy... busy trying to crawl out of the hole of work and Red Dead Redemption 2 I've fallen in to. Anyway, let's enjoy a Daily Nature Fix, shall we? Today's comes from Alaska last month. We met a guy in Juneau that did small-boat whale watching tours. It was myself, my wife, and my parents. It was an amazing few hours we spent on the water among some of the largest mammals in the world.
At one point we saw some whale activity going on in the distance, but it looked a bit unusual. We would see the water spouts from their blowhole, as usual, but then we would see other disturbances at the water's surface. The boat captain drove over to get a better look, and that's when we saw a humpback whale doing something he called "skim feeding".
A humpback's anatomy is sorta strange, so it took me a bit to figure out what I was looking at in the photo above. So, the skinnier part sticking out of the water is it's upper jaw. It's pretty skinny compared to the massive bottom jaw that's still mostly in the water. Ya know those lines on the underside of a humpback whale? Those are folds that expand outward, like a ballon. During this skim-feeding, the krill (or other food) is at the surface of the water so the whale open's it's mouth and drags it's open mouth across the area.
Humpback's are filter feeders. They don't have teeth. Instead, they have something called "baleen" which is like long hairs, but they're made out of keratin... same as our fingernails. Anyway, they have rows and rows of this stuff in their mouth. The whale sucks in TONS of food-rich water, filling up that balloon-like underside, then blow it all out through the baleen, which catches all of the krill and other food. In the two photos above, you could see some of that baleen hair stuff a bit.
Here, he was gulping the down the last of that intake. I like that you can just start to see the how the lower jaw is expanded out with water. You can also see those bumps on its face. Those are called "tubercles".
A few moments later, he took a big breathe of air and dove down to the depths of Auke Bay. Gone just as quick and it showed up. An awesome thing to see it person.
Thanks for reading! I try to post a nature-themed Daily Nature Fix blog every day. Please upvote if you enjoyed it and resteem if you found it especially interesting! Be sure to follow me @customnature so you'll never miss out on your nature fix! See you tomorrow. - Adam
*** These daily blogs showcase the natural world. It is all original content using photos, stories, and experiences from my own travels. ***