When you spend almost every day of the week out with the whales of Stellwagen Bank, you come to recognize them not only from their fluke ID, but their personality as well. This is a photo I took of one of my favorite Humpback whales named Etch-a-Sketch.
Etch-a-Sketch is an adult female and she has a pretty unique way of feeding. Every time we had the opportunity to see her feed, she would always repeat the same behavior of ‘tail lobbing’ before bubble feeding. Whales will slap their flukes against the water in order to stun the fish they are preying on. They then will dive deep and blow bubbles towards the surface to further confuse the fish. The more bubbles you see, the closer the whale is to the surface.
Before you know it, there is a giant face lunging out of the water. If you look closely at this photo, on the right hand side of Etch’s mouth, you can actually see a small sand lance fish attempting to flee out of her mouth. Although she is wild animal, Etch’s feeding behavior was somewhat predictable and easy to photograph.