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The Inertia

Nature’s got some crazy spectacles, doesn’t it? Firefalls, northern lights, bioluminescence, other amazing things of that nature. We’re all part and parcel of nature, of course, as are the planet’s many creatures, and we all have our own little bits of crazy spectacle. But humpback whales might have one of the greatest: bubble-net feeding.

Also called cooperative feeding — far more boring — it’s a kind of group effort that creates a spectacular display. Humpback whales often travel in groups, and they like to spend summers in Alaska. That’s because they’re bulking up the for a long winter journey, and Alaskan waters in the summer are brimming with whale delicacies. Humpbacks eat as much as they can for a few short months, and as much as they can is A LOT. A single humpback can consume up to 3,000 pounds of fish per day.

So how does the bubble-net feeding work? Well, the whales will swim in a huge circle, blowing bubbles as the go. They begin to shrink their circle, which closes the bubble net, which forces the fish towards the surface. Then, they shoot upwards, mouths agape, and if all goes well, getting a huge meal is like shooting fish in a barrel. A barrel made of bubbles.  The synchronized movements show a seriously high level of biological intelligence, and they also put on a fantastic show for us humans.

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