Source: New Zealand Herald
Amazing footage captured using drones has shown how blue whales lunge-feed on krill, picking and choosing their meals. The video, captured in the Southern Ocean off the coast of New Zealand, was taken by researchers from Oregon State University.
“Modelling studies of blue whales ‘lunge-feeding’ theorize that they will not put energy into feeding on low-reward prey patches,” says Leigh Torres, a principal investigator with the university’s Marine Mammal Institute who led the expedition. “Our footage shows this theory in action. We can see the whale making choices, which is really extraordinary because aerial observations of blue whales feeding on krill are rare.”
The footage reveals how a blue whale cruises toward a large mass of krill—around the same size as the whale itself—before turning on its side, mouth agape, and vacuuming up almost the entire patch.
“The whale bypasses certain krill patches—presumably because the nutritional payoff isn’t sufficient—and targets other krill patches that are more lucrative,” says Torres. “We think this is because blue whales are so big, and stopping to lunge-feed and then speeding up again is so energy-intensive, that they try to maximize their effort.”
Check out the extraordinary video below.
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