In the depths of the ocean outside Skjervøy, killer and humpback whales hunt five billion herring—it’s like the world’s largest buffet. Come be a part of the whale adventure!
Under the blue twilight of the polar night, dramatic events are unfolding in the deep. Flocks of seagulls screech and dive into the waves, the tall dorsal fins of killer whales pierce the surface, and suddenly a humpback whale breaches. It is quite the spectacle.
The Herring moved to Skjervøy
The herring has always come close to shore in late autumn. It feeds in the rich Barents Sea all summer, and in February, it’s spawning season somewhere out in the Atlantic Ocean. From October-November to early February, it finds its way to somewhere along the coast of Northern Norway. At times it has been Tysfjord. In recent years, it has been Tromsø. Now, they seem to prefer Skjervøy. The reasons for this migration have not been identified.
The sea bubbles and boils as the whales rush for food
The word is out; the herring is here! Both humpback and killer whales send out signals to their friends, and they all come rushing. The humpback whale is on its way from the polar ice edge to the Caribbean Sea, looking for a hot date with the ladies. It needs its strength. The killer whale—the wolf of the sea—always turns up where there is a meal to be had. There are some indications that the humpback has learned the killer whale’s call for herring. Hey, if you’re hungry, it may be a good idea to learn a foreign language!
Complex tactics are used to get food
Killer whales hunt in packs. The pack circles the school of herring until the fish are standing close together in the water. Then they simply take turns moving in, with the highest ranking members of the pack being the first to get their fill. Humpbacks use a different technique. They drive the herring together with their tail, before they go deep to gather speed, hurtling toward the surface with their mouths wide open. On the way up, the humpback collects hundreds of herring before leaping elegantly out of the water, sifting out the seawater from their mouths. Sometimes humpbacks also steal the herring gathered up by the killer whales. Table manners are obviously not a concern.
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