Feeding – 29/11/23

A feeding, a “bait ball,” is what most people come to Northern Norway to witness during the wintertime, a herring feast for orcas and humpback whales.

It can be challenging to come by.

Today, we got lucky, very lucky.

In the morning, we found a few orcas at the beginning of herding a school of herring together, and we got to witness their feeding—a medium-sized pod.

We met an orca with a collapsed dorsal fin. We know that the Norwegian population already has an individual with this condition (Flappy). However, this orca was not Flappy. It is another one. I am unsure if it is a male or a female because the bent fin looks smaller. I managed to collect ID photos of this individual and one time, it passed close to our boat, followed by a huge male. The photo demonstrates the difference between a healthy and a damaged dorsal fin. (Nobody knows what happened to the animal.)

Gathering birds are always the best indicator for feeding. As we scouted the fjord further inside, a much larger group of birds was further in, as another feeding was going in. Nearby. We only saw fins sticking out of the myriad of birds.

After 30 minutes, the feeding calmed down, and the orcas started socializing.

It is common to say that cetaceans spend at least 60% of their day feeding or looking for food. Even though the orcas were not feeding anymore, they remained in the same general area. I was hoping that they would start feeding again later during the day.

As we approached the end of the trip, they resumed, and another feeding started. This time, more orcas rushed to the scene, and not long after, they were followed by humpback whales, who did not hesitate much to lunge right in the middle of the orca’s bait ball.

At some point, the herring most likely went underneath the boat for shelter because, for a quick 10 minutes, orcas and humpback whales were all over us

It was a spectacular day at sea.

Enjoy!

-Krisztina

Green Gold of Norway

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