WC recently spent some time on Monterey Bay, where the Humpback Whales are moving through, munching on the schools of anchovy.
There were ten to twelve whales in this particular group, doing some cooperative feeding. They were joined by just about every other fish-eating species in the neighborhood. No, it’s not a very good image; it’s photobombed by a Shearwater. But the reason WC included it is pretty clear if you zoom in.
You can actually see the small fish in the overflow from the whale’s jaws. You can also see the head and neck of a California Sea Lion snacking on the escapees.
The scene was genuinely chaotic. Whales breeching and fin-slapping; whales blowing spume all over; the calls of hundreds of birds; dozens of Northern Fur Seals and California Sea Lions barking; Risso’s Dolphins zipping through.
And birds. If you look at the last photo carefully, you can see Sooty Shearwaters, Brown Pelicans, Northern Fulmars, Western, California and Heerman’s Gulls, Elegant and Caspian Terns, and Double-crested and Brant’s Cormorants; to name just a few. All squabbling, fighting and gorging.
It was a privilege to be there, even in two meter swells with cross-chop.
(This occurred about 2.5 miles off shore. It looks closer because the photos were taken with a 500mm lens. It’s a form of perspective distortion called lens compression.)