Skip to content
All news
  • All news
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Corporates
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
Stunning new whale watching venue to be built in Norway

Stunning new whale watching venue to be built in Norway

New plans to open a huge, land-based whale watching attraction in Norway will promote the...
Infamous ‘whale jail’ now empty

Infamous ‘whale jail’ now empty

Reports from Russia suggest the notorious whale jail in Srednyaya bay in Far East Russia...
My wonderful week as a dolphin research volunteer

My wonderful week as a dolphin research volunteer

Joelle Davies has always wanted to join our research team in Wales on their annual...
Lost Sowerby’s beaked whale suffered slow and painful death

Lost Sowerby’s beaked whale suffered slow and painful death

A female Sowerbys beaked whale found dead on a beach at Gullane, on the outskirts...

Scientists discover new humpback whale feeding technique

Humpback whale breaching

Humpback whales are renowned for the many different ways they catch their prey, such as lunge-feeding, kick-feeding, bubble-netting and many more.

However, up-to-now scientists have been unable to work out how the whales might use their five-metre long pectoral flippers to help catch their food.

Finally, using aerial observations and photographs, they have been able to record whales off the coast of Alaska using their flippers in a technique they have called 'pectoral herding'.

The flippers are used in three distinct ways:

  1. To stop prey escaping.
  2. To move water to guide prey into their mouth.
  3. By flashing the bright, white underside of the flipper to confuse the fish when there is sunlight on the water.

The technique was observed in humpbacks feeding in one particular area in Alaska. The humpbacks have learnt to time their arrival each year to coincide with the release of young salmon from a hatchery in the area. One theory as to why the technique was observed here is that herring, which are a more common prey for humpbacks, naturally school close together when threatened, and are therefore easier to catch using other techniques. Salmon on the other hand do not school so readily so need some extra effort to get them together, hence the use of the flippers.

WDC policy manager, Nicola Hodgins, described the feeding technique as 'Quite ingenious behaviour, which if successful, as it appears to be, will be passed down to future generations.'

Read the article:
Pectoral herding: an innovative tactic for humpback whale foraging
Madison M. Kosma,Alexander J. Werth,Andrew R. Szabo and Janice M. Straley
Royal Society Open Science

Related News

Stunning new whale watching venue to be built in Norway

Stunning new whale watching venue to be built in Norway

New plans to open a huge, land-based whale watching attraction in Norway will promote the amazing opportunities see whales in Norway but could also help...
Infamous ‘whale jail’ now empty

Infamous ‘whale jail’ now empty

Reports from Russia suggest the notorious whale jail in Srednyaya bay in Far East Russia is now, finally, empty of whales.  The 11 orcas and...
My wonderful week as a dolphin research volunteer

My wonderful week as a dolphin research volunteer

Joelle Davies has always wanted to join our research team in Wales on their annual dolphin and porpoise survey. This year she made it happen...
Lost Sowerby’s beaked whale suffered slow and painful death

Lost Sowerby’s beaked whale suffered slow and painful death

A female Sowerbys beaked whale found dead on a beach at Gullane, on the outskirts of Edinburgh must have suffered a painful and slow death...

Leave a Comment