Coastal North Carolina hosts a good number of non-breeding and sub-adult whales each winter. Humpbacks and the occasional fin whale stop and feed along our shores during their migration south. These huge mammals are feeding on the abundant schools of bay anchovies and menhaden. These whales are baleen whales, which mean they have no teeth but catch their food by filtering water through the baleens in their mouths. Baleens are bristles that catch small fish and krill as the whale sucks in water then expels it.
Along all of the Outer Banks it is not unusual to see the spouts of humpbacks as they feed close to shore. The whales can be seen from the beach or even better from local piers. Fishermen in boats often encounter them while striper fishing. If you see them while on the water, give them a wide berth.
For more information you can call of check with the North Carolina Aquariums: http://www.ncaquariums.com/askaquarium/walfound.htm
Photos by Brian Horsley