Getting fatter thanks to bubbles...


When you’re as big as whale, you gotta get in a lot of calories to keep that body functioning. Let’s have a look at the humpback whale’s strategy to get fat. Humpbacks are the whales you most often see on videos as they like jumping, they have those large, easily identifiable fins.

So some humpback whales have come up with a pretty effective way of fishing. They manage to concentrate their prey in a confined area so they can eat more in a single mouthful. They hunt in groups of maybe 5-6 individuals. They got one doing the job and the rest are free loaders, i would assume thy take turns though…

The humpbacks like schools of fish. The whale doing the job goes swimming a little deeper than the school, and makes a spiral trajectory around it while blowing bubbles through its blow hole. Now those bubble ascending to the surface look like a net to the fish. The humpback tightens its turn around the school so it foolishly gathers at the center of the bubble net. Scared, the fish move towards the surface in an attempt to escape what they sense could be a predator. And that’s their mistake: the freeloader whales swim up in the bubble net with their huge mouth open and have a feast.

What’s useful in that technique? Well, the Instituto Politecnico de Leiria got inspired and is developing a system that would make use of this bubble net strategy. That allows them to catch the fish without a physical net. No net = no fish damaged! Now if you bring the live fish on board you can scan which ones you need, release the bycatch and the ones with eggs, keeping only what you effectively need! If that becomes a standard in the fishing industry, that would reduce drastically the waste while letting the fish regenerate!

Other ideas?

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Instituto Politecnico de Leiria's project