A San Diego-based photographer has captured the moment a blue whale surfaces and blasts a massive mist plume skyward.
But what stands out in the drone footage captured by Domenic Biagini recently at San Clemente Island are the many remoras visible on the whale’s head, or rostrum.
Biagini, owner of Gone Whale Watching San Diego, asked his Instagram followers:
“How many Remoras can you count on this Blue Whale’s rostrum? Those little sucker fish are bigger than you realize, and they are found on almost every single Blue Whale we see out here!
“The Blue Whales pick up the remoras in warmer waters down south off of Baja and Central America, and these little hitchhikers provide a kind of ‘skin cleaning’ service for the largest animal on earth! Nature is pretty amazing.”
Blue whales, which can measure 100 feet and weigh more than 150 tons, are the largest creatures on the planet. They feed on tiny shrimp-like krill and can be found off Southern California during late spring and summer.
Whale watchers don’t often see remoras because their viewing perspectives are limited compared to views afforded by drones flown directly over the whales.
Remoras attach themselves to their larger hosts, including sharks, and feed on scraps of food, plankton, and parasitic copepods.
They do not seem to adversely affect their hosts.
As for Biagini’s quiz, most of those who have inspected his footage or the accompanying images discovered that the correct answer is 12. Most will also agree that nature is, indeed, amazing.