Friday, April 29, 2011

Sei whales feeding in São Miguel

Yesterday afternoon in São Miguel we were very lucky to see 2 sei whales feeding. Normally when we see baleen whales, like sei whales, in the Azores they are just passing through on their migration, so it was really special to see them feeding here. Sei whales are baleen whales, so they filter small food out of the water using baleen plates in the roof of their mouth. In this case we saw them feeding on swarms of krill at the surface. There were large patches of water that were red from the krill, and it was here that we saw the whales lunging up from the depth and swimming on their sides to take in huge mouthfulls of krill and water. Several times we could see into their huge mouths and we were able to see their baleen plates which they use to trap the krill and their throat pleats which allows their mouth to expand to take in the huge mouthfulls. Here are some photos from the tour:

Open mouth of a sei whale feeding. On the left you can see the top jaw with the baleen plates

Swimming on its side to skim feed along the surface

Here you can see the throat pleats expanded as the whale is feeding

These are the krill (small shrimp-like animals) that the sei whales were feeding on

Krill swarm alongside our boat giving the water a red colour

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