Incredibly rare footage of Antarctic blue whales feeding

Posted by The King Slayer 2018 years ago in Cool videos
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Researchers used a drone to capture rare aerial images of blue whale's feeding. Blue whales, the largest creature on Earth, get their energy by consuming krill - some of the smallest animals on Earth. With the drone, the researchers were able to gain an aerial perspective of a blue whale on its side, lunging to eat a large plume of krill in one big bite. Dr Leigh Torres, Assistant Professor at Oregon State University's Marine Mammal Institute, said that the behavior 'is something we often see from the boat, and we see splashing and we can tell the animal turns on its side but - but with the drone we were able to get this remarkable new perspective'. In the video taken in New Zealand, the whale sees that there is a large krill patch in the water. It turns on its side and pumps its flukes (tail fins), opens its mouth and lunges to eat the entire plume. Dr Torres said that animals have huge energetic demands because they are so big, and it requires energy from them to eat. Blue whales are a type of baleen whale - they have long plates of 'baleen' which hang in a row, like the teeth of a comb, from their upper jaws. Baleen plates act as a filter feeding system for baleen whales. 'Every time a blue whale opens its mouth, it's like putting on the brakes, it slows way down so these animals have to make decisions about what's worth opening their mouth for'. Before opening its mouth, the whale swims at a speed of 6.7 miles per hour (10.8 kilometers per hour), but after it opens its mouth, it slows down to a speed of 1.1 miles per hour (1.8 kilometers per hour). In one instance filmed by the drone, the whale looks at a path of krill, turns on its side as if it were about to feed on it, but then it decides the patch of krill isn't worth slowing down for, so it keeps swimming and moves past it. The reason why drone are so useful for this type of research is that the whales don't notice that the drone is above them. 'It's a great way to film their behavior without disturbing their behavior at all, unlike other aerial methods like a helicopter or a plane that can't hover or makes a lot of noise,' said Dr Torres. She said that these whales are living and feeding in an area where there's a lot of human activity. 'There's an oil and gas operation, there's a seabed mining permit application going on, there's a lot of vessel traffic - so amongst all of that activity, these animals need to be able to find their food and feed efficiently,' Dr Torres said. She said that the more we know about how the whales are finding their food and what makes food that's good for them, it'll help people manage their populations and make sure that human activities aren't having too much of an impact on them.

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