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WATCH: These Whales Hunt With a Net of Bubbles

Humpback whales have a strange, distinctive and remarkable hunting method that no other animal on Earth has ever displayed: bubble hunting.

Humpback whales have a strange, distinctive and remarkable hunting method that no other animal on Earth has ever displayed.

Humans have tried to imitate it, weaving together large stretches of rope to create a trap that lets water loose but holds onto whatever fish lay inside (yes, we're talking about a net.)

But a humpback whale's net works just as well, even though you can never touch it and it disappears almost immediately.

That's because humpback whales' nets are made of bubbles, which is simultaneously the coolest and most confusing hunting technique in the world.

whales bubble hunting

Let us break it down for you: The practice, known as bubble hunting, happens when a pod of humpback whales dives below its prey and forces it to the surface using thousands of bubbles.

whales bubble hunting

It's a complex choreography that requires unspoken communication among a whole groups of whales, where the large mammals spiral slowly up to the surface to create enough power to make a geyser of bubbles and funnel their waiting, unsuspecting prey into their gaping, expectant mouths.

Last year, Motherboard reported on a study that revealed the specific practices and techniques of bubble hunting are passed down between generations of humpbacks.

whales bubble hunting

These practices are learned when the whales communicate to each other.

This means that nothing about the precise dance of bubble hunting is genetically encoded into these whales — it's just what they've learned to teach each other and pass on over the years.

It's proof of what many scientists have been saying for years: that whales have culture and traditions that we may never understand but can witness in these magnificent swirls of bubbles.

Last week, Smithsonian reports, a GoPro captured crystal-clear footage of bubble-net hunting in waters off of British Columbia.

You can watch the whales leap out of the water to swallow their fish in the full video below, which looks a little more like an underwater ballet than mealtime.

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