"Surrounded" Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Monterey Bay, California
This image has drawn quite a bit of attention as a sight such as this so close to the shoreline was unprecedented! It was shot from Moss Landing State Beach as a solitary sailboat was surrounded by several humpbacks, with the setting sun magically illuminating the misty spouts of water.
Moss Landing is a regular spot of mine to photograph wildlife and over the past few months, it has been teeming with activity. An abundance of anchovies in the Monterey Bay in 2014 was attracting unprecedented numbers of whales and birds, all partaking in the massive feeding frenzy. The humpback whales in particular were drawing huge crowds of people eager to see this phenomenon either from a whale watching tour boat or simply from the shoreline.
The humpback whale is named for the distinctive 'hump' formed by its back when about to take a long dive. It completes the longest annual migration of any mammal, traveling from polar regions to the tropics and back each year. Despite their bulk, humpbacks are known for their acrobatic leaping abilities and are a favorite of whale watchers. Males are also known for their distinctive songs — which can last for 20 minutes and are often repeated for hours at a time.
Humpback whales became one of the major targets of the whaling industry due to their coastal migration routes; it is estimated that over 100,000 humpbacks were slaughtered in the southern hemisphere alone, between 1900 and 1940. Protected from whaling today, these whales are vulnerable to changes in the marine environment and are threatened by pollution and the possible alteration of fish stocks as a result of climate change
AnchoviesBaleen WhaleCaliforniaCalifornia Sea LionDorsal FinFeedingFishFlukeHumpback WhalesJacqueline Deely PhotographyKrillMammalsMarine LifeMonterey BayMoss LandingNatureOceanOmnivorePacificUnited StatesWhales