Massive fin whales thrill boaters during 'extraordinary' feeding event

Massive fin whales thrill boaters during 'extraordinary' feeding event

Outdoors

Massive fin whales thrill boaters during 'extraordinary' feeding event

finwhale-1Southern California boaters can expect to see migrating gray whales during the winter, but sometimes much larger whales announce their presence far more spectacularly.

That was certainly the case for passengers aboard a 24-foot inflatable last week, when two 70-foot fin whales were spotted lunging across the surface, with their cavernous mouths agape, as they preyed on krill off Newport Beach.

“You sometimes see that with blue whales, because they specialize in krill,” Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a Southern California-based researcher, old BNQT. “But to get to see fin whales lunge feeding on krill – and to capture it from the air – is extraordinarily rare.”

The accompanying footage was captured via drone by Newport Coastal Adventure, and opens with a scene worthy of a nature TV special, as one of the whales expands its massive throat grooves to encircle and trap thousands of the tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans.

“Today a good whale-watching trip turned into an extraordinary one,” Capt. Ryan Lawler wrote on the company’s Facebook page. “Two Fin Whales came together and lunge-fed for almost an hour straight on surface krill off Newport Beach. We hadn’t seen anything like it before!”

Fin whales, second in size only to blue whales, are seen sporadically off Southern California. The graceful leviathans feed on small, schooling fish as well as krill. They can consume 4,000 pounds of food per day.

Gray whales, which can measure up to 50 feet, do not feed much as they migrate from Arctic feeding areas to Mexican nursing lagoons. The gray whale population is estimated to number about 29,000.

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