Drone Footage Captures Humpback Whales Creating Stunning Fibonacci Spirals in Water

Humpback whales bubble net feeding in Alaska

Humpback whales bubble net feeding in Alaska. (Photo: Kellington/Depositphotos)

Humpback whales are incredible creatures, particularly when you look at their diet. These marine giants only eat for half the year and during their feeding season, they sometimes participate in extraordinary behavior to meet their dietary needs. Groups of whales come together and create extraordinary patterns on the water's surface in an act known as bubble-net feeding.

Aerial video footage shows these incredible patterns, that sometimes resemble Fibonacci spirals. So what is actually happening when humpback whales are bubble-net feeding? This cooperative hunting technique calls for groups of humpback whales to encircle their prey—typically salmon, krill, or herring. Then, they each begin to exhale from their blowhole to create bubbles that disorient the fish, creating a sort of net. Then, one whale puts out a feeding call, at which point all of the whales open their mouths and swim upwards, catching the fish in their mouths.

It's an amazing piece of choreography and one that is learned. In fact, not all groups of humpback whales participate in bubble-net feeding, as some live in areas where food is plentiful. This makes this type of group hunting unnecessary. The behavior was first observed in the Norwegian Sea in 1929; but, at the time, it was dismissed as playful socialization. Scientists now know that it's not the case and feel that it may have developed as a response to a scarcity in the food supply. By working together, the group ensures that everyone can get the nutrients that they need.

See humpback whales in action as they carry out bubble-net feeding and create extraordinary shapes in the water.

h/t: [IFL Science!]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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