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Lunge Feeding

Seagulls circle above as a humpback whale opens its mouth wide to take a great gulp of food-filled water, a behavior known as lunge feeding. The whale will filter the food in its baleen plates, expelling the water and swallowing the food. This image was captured by a hexacopter, which WHOI scientists and their colleagues are using to fly into a whale’s “blow” and collect samples of the spray for studies of microbes living within the whale. The research was authorized by NMFS permit #17355 and flights were authorized under an MOU between NOAA and the FAA (Class G MOU #2016-ESA-3-NOAA). (Photo courtesy of John Durban (NOAA), Holly Fearnbach (SR3) and Lance Barrett-Lennard (Coastal Ocean Research Institute))

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