Two feeding humpbacks

Most of the whale species that we get to see here in Skjálfandi Bay are not resident to the waters around Iceland, but migrate large distances between their breeding grounds in subtropical or tropical waters and their feeding grounds close to the poles.

Whales who undertake such an annual journey, have well adapted to seasonal feeding, being able to feast on huge amounts daily whilst in waters with an abundance of food, building up a fat reserve - the blubber layer - that they can then break down and live off once back in warmer waters, which supply little to no food.

In order to feed on vast amounts daily, these whales use baleen plates, which grow along their upper jaw, to filter their food out of the water. When feeding, whales will first gulp in huge amounts of food and water, but as they close their mouth the water is pushed back out through these plates until only food remains inside - which is then swallowed. Baleen plates are made of keratin, the same substance as found in our fingernails and hair. Over time, these baleen plates wear down, but just like our fingernails they can regrow again.

- Sarah

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