Maui's humpbacks fast the entire time that they are in the islands. Our crystal blue waters provide zero food opprotunities for the whales. Maui's humpbacks spend thier winters up North in Alaska where food is abundant in the long days of summer. These whales are enormous and it takes tons of krill, plankton and tiny fish to pack on the pounds that sustain thier journey here to Maui. Ever wonder how thay can catch enough? One answer is bubble net feeding. Imagine a dozen humpback whales all rising to the surface at the same time, mouths agape. This is what happens during this remarkable cooperative feeding behavior.

First, a whale will find a school of small fish. Humpbacks have baleen—a sort of strainer—in their mouths rather than teeth, so they can only eat tiny fish and small shrimp-like creatures known as krill, which are abundant in Alaska waters in the summer due to the long days and plentiful nutrients in the water that support the krill population. This is the same krill that is used to make the pure krill oil supplements that many scientists and doctors believe can promote a healthier heart, lower cholesterol and contribute to overall better health.

The group of whales herds under the school of fish, releasing bubbles to confuse the fish and bunch them together. This ring of bubbles is visible on the water before the whales surface. Then, as one, the whales hurdle themselves up, mouths agape at angles greater than 45 degrees. The lower jaw distends like that of a bullfrog in full song. In this way a whale collects a huge mouthful of water, then spits it out, straining it through its baleen. And of course, the food is caught in the baleen. Often the whales will do this feeding over and over.

Maui's humpbacks bubble net feeding.