Adult humpback whales are on average 14-15 meters long and weigh ca 40 tons, thus they are one of the largest mammals on the planet. They are also one of the easiest whales to identify at sea. They are large robust baleen whales with extremely long pectoral flippers that may be as long as 5 meters. Compared to most other whales, humpbacks also often display a huge variety of acrobatic behaviors at the surface, and may leap clear out of the water (breaching) and slap at the water surface with their long flippers.
Bubble-net feeding is a cooperative feeding method used by groups of humpback whales. This behavior is not instinctual, it is learned. Humpback whales use vocalizations to communicate to one another and effectively and efficiently execute the bubble net so they all can feed. As the group circles a school of herring they use a team effort to disorient and corral the fish into a net of bubbles. One whale will typically begin to exhale out of their blowhole beneath the surface at the school of fish to begin the process. More whales will also start to blow bubbles while continuing to circle their prey. They corral the fish into a tight circle while creating a net of bubbles to surround the fish and keep them from escaping. One whale will sound a feeding call, at which point all whales simultaneously swim upwards with mouths open to feed on the trapped fish, referred to as lunge feeding.
Encounters with such playful giants are truly awe-inspiring and seeing a humpback whale makes one of their characteristic jumps in the air or just gently breaking the water surface next to your boat can be a memory for life.