VIDEO: Humpback Whale Spits Up Striped Bass in New Jersey

A Jersey-based drone photographer and videographer captured an unbelievable (and slightly comical) moment while watching a whale feed just off the beach.

Look closely! This freeze frame shows a striped bass being launched from the mouth of a feeding humpback whale. (Video by @christorluke)

If there’s one thing social media is especially good for, it’s showcasing the spectacle of nature in our local waters. Of the many talented drone photographers and videographers sharing their work on social media these days, one recent video stood out to us at On The Water. Christor Lukasiewicz, who goes by the handle @christorluke on Instagram, is a New Jersey based drone pilot, photographer and videographer, and a couple weeks back, he captured a remarkable scene shown in the video below.


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A post shared by Christor Lukasiewicz (@christorluke)

The whale, which was feeding on a school of adult menhaden—also known as bunker or pogies, depending on your coastal location—quite literally bit off more than it could chew. Erupting from beneath the school of bunker, the humpback inhaled hundreds of the oily baitfish, along with a few unexpected striped bass that had also been feeding on the abundant menhaden. What happens to the stripers next is something that every young parent has seen their child do with vegetables; they got spit right out.

Striped bass are not part of the humpback whale’s diet, but that’s not why the whale opened up and launched them from its gullet. And it’s not because they have a refined palate, either.

With the exception of the sperm whale, which is toothed and predatory toward large fish and squid, most whales cannot swallow anything larger than a grapefruit, which means full-grown bunker are about as big a snack as this humpback can handle. Humpback whales sift their food out of the water, then swallow the baitfish whole, so these stripers had to go or the whale could choke.

A few years ago, a video showing two kayakers being inhaled by a humpback whale went viral on the internet, leaving many viewers curious as to whether the paddlers survived. Thankfully, they ended up just like the stripers shown in Christor’s video: as whale spit.

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