Watch experts count 166 huge fin whales swimming and feeding in the Atlantic

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Experts have counted 166 fin whales off the Spanish coast during their migration in the Mediterranean, with these incredible images showing them swimming and feeding.

Experts celebrated the high number, attributing good weather to the growth of plankton, the whale’s favorite food.

Video footage released by the Edmaktub association, organizers of the Fin Whale project, shows pods of huge whales on their migration route to the Atlantic Ocean.

Video footage released by the Edmaktub association, organizers of the Fin Whale project, shows pods of huge whales on their migration route to the Atlantic Ocean.
Edmaktub/Zenger

From February to June each year, fin whales migrate along the Catalan coast. The impressive footage shows them swimming and feeding, opening their mouths wide as they swoop down on their prey.

The phenomenon has been known to fishing teams in the area for decades but has only been studied by the association for a few years.

The organization said in a statement on Tuesday: “Wind and rains in March favored production peaks and the presence of plankton, the whales’ main food source, until the end of May.”

Edmaktub also said it was the first time an M364 LR thermal imaging camera had been used, detecting whales up to a kilometer (half a mile) away, as well as filming at night.

They said: “In 2022, whale sightings remained high compared to the previous year; with a total of 166 whales sighted and 99 whales identified through drone imagery.

“The use of an echo sounder was instrumental in detecting masses of organisms, possibly plankton, in areas where we found fin whales feeding.

“During the month of May and early June, the animals traveled the Catalan coast and the Gulf of Lion at a greater distance than in previous years.”

Whales are seen near the Spanish coast
Whales are seen near the Spanish coast during the 2022 spotting season.
Edmaktub/Zenger

They explained: “Ship strikes are the main conservation concern for fin whales in this area.

“The data collected, along with animals showing collision marks and high vessel traffic indicate the high threat to this species.”

“It should also be noted the disturbance caused by irresponsible pleasure boats, ignoring the law that protects cetaceans and prohibits their approach.”

Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

It is the second longest cetacean species on the planet after the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). They can measure up to 85 feet and weigh up to 114 tons.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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