Feeding Frenzy / by Michael Johns

The 2019 seabird field season on the Farallones wrapped up at the beginning of August, and I’ve been off the island and back home for a few weeks now. Going through photos from the season, this particular shot of a humpback whale lunge feeding through a giant bait ball of northern anchovy stands out as my favorite. Anchovy was an important component of the seabird diet this year, and comprised most of the prey items being delivered to awaiting chicks for common murres, rhinoceros auklets, and western gulls. We were seeing many mixed species feeding aggregations near the island by the end of July, where whales, sea lions, and birds were all working cooperatively to take advantage of the bounty of fish.