Like baleen whales, humpback whales predominantly feed on crustaceans and krill such as copepods and Euphausia, small fish including capelin, sandeel, herring, and mackerel. They usually consume the concentrated masses of prey. Humpback whale eats 4,400 – 5,500 pounds on an average.
What Do Humpback Whales Eat
The whale has a generalist diet in that it takes on several small species of schooling fish. Humpback whales feed heavily in summer while in winter they seldom act as opportunistic feeders. It is an active hunter as it eats Atlantic herring, Atlantic salmon, American sand lance, haddock, Pollock, and mackerel.
They seem to be unique in their use of bubbles among large whales. Humpback whales typically blow curtains, nets, or clouds below schools of fish, and then it opens its big mouth to take the bubble structure.
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They consume copepods and krill in the Antarctic and Australian waters. Humpback whales employ a unique hunting method in that it beats water with its flukes and fins.
Humpback whales have evolved a new hunting technique known as bubble net feeding. They produce bubbles that are 30 meters in diameter and it involves cooperation of several animals. These bubbles force the krill or a small fish to come to the water surface in masses. As a result, the whale gobbles the whole mass.
They are very acrobatic hunters and as whales breach high out of water they slap the surface while going down. This behavior might illustrate their playtime or sometimes they simply breach to give some social meaning.
They are likely to make small groups on feeding and breeding grounds. However, they rarely stay together for a long time. The associations may only last for weeks or may be days.
They are known to sing complex songs in winter—a behavior which is usually shown to attract females or sometimes showing dominance. In a single group all whales will sing the same song even though the content of the song may be different.
Adult males also compete aggressively for females. When this happens, males usually involve in tail slashing, head butting, or ramming.
Scientists have failed to solve the mystery as to how humpback whales find their food. Studies suggest that they do not have any echolocation though they are likely to possess a strong sense of smell which they might use to detect prey patches at the surface.
Moreover, scientists do not have any understanding of how these whales navigate thousands of miles in their annual migrations.