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Study: Some Whales Love Underwater Mountains
By Ian Seldrup, November 26, 2015 @ 10:30 PM (EST)
Source: New Scientist

Who doesn’t enjoy a spectacular mountain view? Well, new research suggests that some whales also enjoy hanging out around majestic mountains—underwater of course.

A team of scientists in Nouméa, New Caledonia, used satellite tags to track 34 humpback whales which were migrating between southern New Caledonia breeding waters and Antarctic feeding areas for up to 110 days. They found that not only did individuals take a variety of routes, but they also made substantial stops—between three and 22 days—around seamounts. The finding has suggested that sea mountains could be considered important habitats for whales and therefore may be valuable areas for conservation.

The question is: Why do whales love seamounts? The scientists only have a few theories so far. Opération Cétacés lead reseacher Claire Garrigue says, “Maybe they stop there to relax and to rest a little bit because they have lots of miles to go to Antarctica.” Other possibilities are that they use seamounts as navigation cues, places for breeding activities, or simply for feeding—since seamounts are rich in biodiversity.

Interestingly, whales aren’t the only marine animals who can appreciate a nice mountain. Hammerhead sharks have been known to aggregate on seamounts, and tuna and seabirds have also been spotted hanging around them. Why they do it, though, is still a mystery.

Read more here.

 

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