If you have been looking for Nemo you’ll be familiar with the amazing prey of the world’s largest sea creature (somewhat swimming!). To be fair, as a whale, you hard pressed to find items bigger than you do so they choose to gorge on the bitesize snacks.
Some feed on krill and plankton, others feed on fish and depending on their diet, these animals have evolved to contain teeth or blades that can filter out tiny organisms from seawater.
An episode of David Attenborough’s new BBC series, A Perfect Planet, last week showed a bizarre and innovative new feeding technique employed by the whales of Eden in the Gulf of Thailand for the first time. Pollution from the ground has begun to suffocate the water here and it has driven fish species to surfaces where the concentration of oxygen is naturally higher.
Eden’s whales (Balenopet’s Adeni adeni) lunge eats to find these fish, but they have to swallow large amounts of water to catch prey, and try very hard when the numbers are low. Feeling tired, trying actively run lunch, they opted for an alternative method called trap feeding that leaves heavy lifting in its prey.
By opening their mouths to the surface like a giant basketball hoop, whales can make fish jump in the air and directly into their mouths. During the making of the program, the team observed lone whales practiced by even mothers and calves, which were helpful in swimming around and showing fear of throwing more fish in more empty mouths.
Surprisingly, birds can even catch fish from inside the whale’s mouth and earn cash at eating events. This is a fair deal for the oxygen-starved fish but is just one example of how wildlife can learn to cope with ethno-driven changes in the environment.
An incredible example of wildlife videography but shooting co-producers such as Daniel Rasmussen told IFLScience that it was far from a simple sequel to the film. Even finding the animals to found to be malicious is complicated because drones and whales were difficult to detect using sensitivities because they could not use fast boats.
Rasmussen said, “We found a curse on a very slow boat that made the whales look even impossible, and when you looked at their distance, you could straighten your direction and lie down for two hours before you got there, and yet they inevitably left.” Although the frustration kit piece was a conscious choice, he explained, most modern boats would cause too many diners to eat tired food in the water and scare the whales they were tracking.
Equipped with an older, more traditional Thai boat that was exhausted in the wind, the team’s progress was slow and under the deck it was whisper-quiet, a terrible noise for those at the top. For example, despite working on two 3-week shoots for more than 2 years, the team saw a few dining events suitable for filming.
Reports from members of A Perfect Planet’s huge production team certainly give an idea of the problems wildlife filmmakers have faced, including this minimal account of Matt Aeberhard who dealt with Natron Lake Soda Flat to make a flamingosfilm. However, it seems all forgiven of the natural world when you finally land that perfect shot – even if your means of celebration is limited.
Rasmussen said, “We were incredibly thrilled to be able to eat Thai food on this trip, but one day we realized that we were given the same food for breakfast as we had for breakfast.”
“The next day was a repetition, and the next day, and so it continued. In three weeks we had just seen a whale, could not talk to each other because the boat was so loud, and none of us wanted to eat anymore. Therefore, when we finally filmed a successful trap feeding moment it was overwhelming and we just celebrated as the only way, having lunch. “