Wifi is spotty and I didn’t have down time yesterday, so this morning I’m posting a short note I wrote last night. I have pictures, but with the wifi, I can’t connect them yet.
Did you know that Blue whale poop is RED?!
We did NOT see blue whales and their feces today, but we did have the once-in-a-lifetime (at least for me) experience of sitting next to a pod of more than 50 humpback whales, watching them feed. Pink-footed shearwaters (with a few sooty shearwaters thrown in) loved the whales too; there must have been more than 200 shearwaters feeding on the krill and other plankton brought up by the whales.
Humpbacks, Gray whales, and blue whales belong to a group called the Balinadae, because they have a structure called baleen that helps them sift prey items. Watching them feed is incredibly – they drive their tiny plankton prey upward and into their mouths by starting below them. From the boat, we see their huge, open mouths swoop up and out of the water, then they turn their bodies sideways while sifting the water out and keeping the plankton in. Even our Chief Scientist, Dr. Leigh Torres, was astounded at the size and feeding behavior of these creatures. We collected a plankton sample at the same time and found krill! Krill are actually what makes the poop of blue whales (and probably other baleen whales) red because these little shrimp relatives are pink.
Just before that we saw the humpbacks, we spotted a small group of killer whales – about 4. Wow, incredible day.