“A hungry pelican was happily feasting on anchovies when the water beneath began to move. Strong baleen jaws clamped down hard—a humpback whale snatched up the seabird.
“It was evident that the pelican was not happy,” says Kate Cummings, the naturalist and co-owner of Blue Ocean Whale Watch who witnessed the event …..”
“….. Luckily, humpback whales don’t eat large creatures, so they have no incentive to swallow. Sensitive organs in the mouths of whales like humpbacks may allow the whale to differentiate between desired prey and unwelcome visitors.
Cummings has seen incidents like this before. Once, a whale trapped a Pink Footed Shearwater and a cormorant in one gulp. “I also saw a sea lion jumping out of a whale’s mouth,” she says. Each time, the trapped creatures got away when the whale realized what it had grabbed.
In this case, the pelican escaped. Cummings thinks the whale must have sensed it was there because it didn’t fully close its mouth. Before submerging, the whale opened back up and the pelican flew away, seemingly unharmed.”
As the autumn days become shorter and colder in the Northern Hemisphere, the ocean’s creatures prepare for winter.
In the deep waters off the Central California coast, enormous schools of anchovies are drawing hundreds of humpback whales, along with blue whales, dolphins, seals, and other predators.
Here, blue sky and wispy clouds reflect off a humpback whale’s glistening back. This whale, enjoying an anchovy feast in Monterey Bay, was one of about a dozen that photographer Kate Cummings saw on a recent trip out to sea.
A humpback whale eyes photographer Rodger Klein in the South Pacific waters off Tonga.
Where great whales come sailing by, Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
Round the world for ever and aye?
The southern hemisphere’s humpback whale population is slowly rebounding after being nearly wiped out by 20th century commercial whaling. The good news? The just-announced Camden Sound Marine Park in Western Australia should help safeguard nearly 3,000 square miles of ocean that includes the largest humpback whale calving grounds in that half of the globe. While there’s been a bit of controversy, the park seems a step in the right direction …