Incredible Drone Footage Captures Humpback Whales Creating Mesmerizing Fibonacci Spiral

(Screenshot of video by Van den Bemd via Storyful)

Piet van den Bemd, a professional photographer and polar guide, was using a drone to explore the dark blue waters of the Antarctic. While flying the drone, he noticed something fascinating emerging from the deep.

As the drone captured footage, a beautiful pattern started to form on the ocean surface. The pattern resembled a Fibonacci spiral, a famous mathematical shape commonly found in nature, including plants and animals.

It was only when the spiral was fully formed that van den Bemd realized what had caused it. Two enormous mouths, wide open for feeding, rose from the center of the pattern.

Those majestic creatures were humpback whales.

Van den Bemd, speaking to the news agency Storyful, said that the moment was unforgettable. He found it incredible to witness the perfect execution of the Fibonacci spiral shape.

Researchers have known for over thirty years that humpback whales use bubbles as a tool. Sometimes, they use bubbles to intimidate rivals, while other times they create massive walls of bubbles to trap fish and krill.

This trapping technique is called bubble-net feeding, and it requires coordination between two or more humpback whales.

On Instagram, Van den Bemd described this hunting trick as “nature’s perfect collaboration unfolding underwater,” and it’s hard to argue with that.

While some people see Fibonacci patterns in nature as a result of some deeper efficiency, in cases like this, the shape is simply a tightly wound spiral created through practiced timing. Nevertheless, it remains incredibly beautiful.

Bubble-net feeding involves whales diving deep below the surface and releasing bubbles in unison from below. One whale usually takes the lead in blowing bubbles, while others swim around the fish and drive them into the temporary trap.

Once the prey is tightly gathered, the whales open their wide mouths and begin to swallow them, often charging through the center of the spiral.

This behavior seems to be learned through culture, but it is rarely captured on film due to the elusive nature of humpback whales. So far, it has mainly been observed among whale populations in the Northern Hemisphere.

Regular people using drones are now making a difference. Their aerial footage is giving scientists an up-close look at whale behavior like never before.

In the Southern Hemisphere, drones have captured humpback whales engaging in bubble-net feeding multiple times in recent years.

In one instance off the eastern coast of Australia, up to 33 whales were observed participating in this hunting behavior. This discovery has surprised scientists because it happened in the whales’ breeding grounds, where they were previously thought to avoid feeding. It has led researchers to question their understanding of humpback migration patterns.

There is still much we don’t comprehend about these highly intelligent creatures. Some experts who have witnessed whales blowing bubbles on multiple occasions speculate that the behavior might even be a form of play.

Doug Perrine, a professional photojournalist, shared a story in Hakai Magazine about seeing a young female humpback creating a circle of bubbles in the water.

“There was no food around, and no other whales were in sight,” he recalled.

“She rolled to the side to admire her creation. Was she practicing making bubble structures that could be useful for feeding, or was she simply enjoying the captivating beauty of the shimmering bubble spirals?”

Perhaps one day we will find the answer.