Humpback whales are typically very solitary creatures. They roam the oceans alone or in small groups until their breeding season when they migrate to the tropical waters to mate. However currently in South Africa, something completely unusual is happening.
Right now just off the coast, groups of 20 to 200 humpback whales are gathering and scientists have no idea what’s going on.
Ken Findlay, researcher at Cape Peninsula University in South Africa says “I’ve never seen anything like this. No such dense feeding aggregations have been reported elsewhere.”
Scientists think that most of the whales seem to be pretty young, and might indicate a dense concentration of prey. Humpback whales eat krill and small fish, and have been known to use a tactic called bubble net feeding where a group divides up and swirl around the prey, surrounding them in a ‘net’ of bubbles. Once the fish are confused they can rush in and catch them.
While this is possible, it isn’t really an intrinsic behavior but one that is taught. Not all whales learn it as they spend the majority of their time alone.
These ‘super-groups’ of whales have only started appearing within the last five years. Scientists are wondering if they are reacting to global warming or if there is something else going on.
What do you think is causing this weird situation?