Interacting with Arctic Humpback & Orcas – 11/21

I am a researcher interested in the role of the vocal communication mediating coordination during hunting, in herring eating Killer Whales.

We were the only ones out there far north when we were surrounded by more than 50 orcas, for hours. We would just float there, watch and cheer 😍 enjoying to spend time with these intriguing creatures in their natural habitat… letting them chose how close the interaction shall be and all this in the beautiful light of Arctic winter.

Underwater noise is putting a lot of pressure on cetaceans who depend on acoustics in every aspect of their live.
Therefore we need scientific data like this, to understand the role of vocal communication, as a basis for effective conservation (science to policy).

There was a big feeding event with 20+ orcas at first, when all of a sudden I saw a shadow and herring rushing towards me. When I started filming I was not quite sure what would happen… only when I saw in the dark the white pectoral fins of the humpback whale I knew. The humpback swam towards me, gently moving past me. But I could feel the water displacement – they are gigantic. And it was really fascinating to see that its eye was closed, as if it was enjoying the meal very much 😍


Humpback whales migrate to the Arctic to feed. For them it is far more than just a meal, it is building enough energy storage for the months to come, which will be natural periods of energy deficit: They won’t eat during migration and at their breeding grounds. On top of fasting for months, females invest a lot of energy in their offspring. It is therefore crucial that the animals can build up enough energy storage in their feeding grounds. The energy balance is delicate and far too often it is interfered with by human activity, such as underwater noise, ship strikes and entanglements in active or abandoned/discarded fishing gear.

-Cherine

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