How a humpback whale ended up with a sea lion in its mouth – National Geographic

How a humpback whale ended up with a sea lion in its mouth - National Geographic 2

During a whale-watching trip last week, wildlife photographer Chase Dekker stared in awe as a humpback surfaced and engulfed a sea lion in its mouth.The humpback whale, the largest of the three the group was observing—likely measuring around 50 feet long—opened its mouth to consume fish and accidentally “lifted the male sea lion like it was nothing,” says Dekker, who works as a naturalist for the whale-watching outfit, Sanctuary Cruises.“As soon as I saw this photograph, I knew it may be one of the rarest shots I’ve ever taken,” Dekker says. “Not the most beautiful, not the most artistic, but probably something I would never see again.”This time of year is prime for humpback sightings in Monterey Bay: The hungry leviathans stop in the area each summer to snack on schooling anchovies. The fish attract other predators as well, resulting in spectacular feeding frenzies.Usually, the predators avoid each other, and sea lions typically swim out of the way as the humpbacks prepare to eat. This process, called lunge-feeding, constists of charging toward and engulfing food in a huge mouthful. The whales then push out the water and strain the fish through flexible comb-like structures in their mouths called baleen.Taking turns
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