There were approximately 150 animals that were feeding on tight capelin schools, which extended from the bottom all the way to the surface. As we drove in and out of the area, on the echo sounder the capelin schools were more spread. It appeared the humpbacks had managed to concentrate the capelin in tighter schools.
We have taken some good ID-photos of the flukes of some of the humpbacks. The undersides of their tails have individual markings for identification which is used for population and distribution studies. This will be added to an increasing catalogue of flukes to find out where and when individuals are been observed. In earlier fluke ID opportunities, we have had an individual observed in the Barents Sea and in the Caribbean, which confirms the Barents Sea population of humpbacks use the Caribbean as their winter area.
In the autumn the humpback whales migrate to their winter area. The usually don’t feed on their migrations, so krill, capelin and herring in the Barents Sea are very important to build up the energy levels for the winter in the south. Humpbacks are a baleen whale, which means they don’t have teeth, and they filter their food. As they gulp their food, the baleen plates filter the food from the sea water. This is what we had observed on our whale safari.
The humpbacks mate in the winter area when the mature males attract the females with a song, These songs have only been recorded from the males. These songs are a way to communicate. The calf is born in the winter area and together with the mother a minimum of one year. The gestation period is 11.5 months and the calf is 4–4.5 meters long at birth.