humpback

Humpback whale rises to get its fill of anchovies. Photo: ©Kate Cummings/Blue Ocean Whale Watch

At first glance the image appears to depict some colossal, blob-like monster rising from the hidden depths to unleash its fury.

But on close inspection viewers can make out baleen the 40-ton humpback whale uses to sift anchovies from sea water, and the anchovies, flying with their own fury to escape being devoured.

Also visible is a long, pink organ that resembles a tongue, and barnacles that have manifested on the whale’s chin area.

This is the photographic handiwork of Kate Cummings, who runs Blue Ocean Whale Watch at Moss Landing in Monterey Bay.

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Gulls try to catch anchovies leaping to avoid the humpback whale. Photo: ©Kate Cummings/Blue Ocean Whale Watch

She told GrindTV that the three-photo sequence involved one of about eight humpback whales engaged in vertical lunge-feeding through schools of anchovies on Wednesday.

She shared the top image on the BOWW Facebook page, and followers expressed their admiration.

"One of the best perspectives of a whale I've ever seen," reads one comment.

"NeoGeo winner for this one," reads another.

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Baleen lines the roof of the whale’s mouth. Photo: ©Kate Cummings/Blue Ocean Whale Watch

"Looks like Jabba the Hutt's cousin, Bubba," reads yet another.

Understandably, many of the comments are along the lines of this one: "Wow! Wow, wowza wowy wow!!!!!"

In the foreground, the whale's ventral throat grooves are expanded and the jaws are essentially popped out of joint so the whale can maximize its intake.

Said Cummings, of the expedition on the 60-foot vessel, High Spirits: “I got down on the lower deck and squatted to get a low angle."

This is the third consecutive season featuring record humpback whale sightings in Monterey Bay, thanks to an abundance of anchovies.

After the summer/fall feeding season, the whales will migrate south to calving and nursing areas off Mexico.

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