Based on an analysis of 63 blue whales off the coast of California, researchers have concluded that there is a tendency amongst blue whales to favor their right side. Researchers believe favoring the right side whilst feeding is an attempt to optimize the process of foraging for krill. This tendency, the first of its kind, was discovered by James Herbert-Read of Stockholm University in Sweden.
By observing nearly 3,000 plunges, the research team was able to determine the reasoning for this “right-handed” preference. By making right-hand sharp turns towards patches of krill, the whales are able to maintain a clear line of sight with their prey. This makes sense when you consider how deep these enormous creatures plunge for food. Feeding is a labor-intensive activity for the world’s largest animals and thereby necessitates this clever adaptation.
In shallower waters, visibility is better, and therefore a factor when considering the motivations for such actions. In deeper, less-lit waters, this aspect is negligible and hence not as necessary or useful to employ when foraging. Plunges in deeper waters produced a reduction in this tendency, where more left rolls and turns were performed.
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