A whale and dolphin party..
We saw five humpback whales today. One of them showed off a couple of high breaches as well. But probably the most exciting part of today’s cruise was a large pod of over 25 – 30 bottlenose dolphins that were having the time of their lives surfing waves and playing around our boat and around two big whales.
Dolphins of course are technically small whales. The whales, dolphins and porpoises are collectively known as the Cetaceans. They are split into two groups, the toothed whales (Odontocetes) and the baleen whales (Mysticetes). The toothed whales include all the dolphin species. As the name suggests they all have teeth in their mouths and they hunt fast-moving prey like fish or squid. That’s why they are generally smaller than the baleen whales as they need to be quick and manoeuvrable. The baleen whales on the other hand, like our humpback whales, don’t have teeth but rather baleen plates which are coarse bristly plates that hang down from the upper jaw. They act like a strainer or sieve when the whale is feeding. They use a technique called lunge feeding where they expand their throat and take in a huge gulp of water containing a swarm of small animals like krill or baitfish. Then they push the water back out of the mouth through the baleen which trap the small animals on the inside so the whale can swallow them without swallowing too much sea water at the same time.
It’s always really exciting to see dolphins and whales interacting with each other. They are both very intelligent animals and they certainly seem to be curious about each other and enjoying each others’ company. The whales today were rolling at the surface, lifting their heads up, while the dolphins (including a small calf) were zipping all around them. So much fun to watch!
Eco Ranger Ina