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WATCH: Secret Feeding Habits of Whales in Antartica Revealed

Apr 12, 2017 10:27 AM EDT
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Cameras attached to humpback whales in Antarctica revealed their unique feeding habits.

According to Business Insider, Australian and US scientists working off the Antarctic Peninsula in the Gerlache Strait managed to attach non-invasive camera tags with 3D motion sensors on the whales. The device were stuck on their backs for 24 to 48 hours.

Upon retrieving the device, which was attached with the help of a suction, the researchers found recordings showing the feeding behavior of the humpback whales, including the animals lunge-feeding into tight swarms of krill. Not only did it show a footage, but it also recorded their exact movements and the depths of each of their dive.

"We have some wonderful data on different feeding strategies from rolling lunges near the surface, to bubble net feeding, to deep foraging dives lunging through dense patches of krill," leading whale scientist Ari Friedlaender said in a statement obtained by Phys.org.

"We have been able to show that whales spend a great deal of time during the days socializing and resting and then feeding largely throughout the evening and night time," Friedlaender added.

The data captured by the cameras will not only help scientists understand the whales' feeding patterns, social habits and role in the Antarctic ecosystem, but it will also help them determine how any change in krill populations affect these magnificent creatures. By understanding these, the researchers will be able to come up with measures to help whales survive.

Meanwhile, longer-term tags called LIMPET tags were attached to minke whales, essentially because they are faster and more elusive than humpback whales. The tags will transmit data for around two months, Seeker reported.

"This work is part of a long-term ecological research to better understand the divergent impacts of climate change on the ice-dependent minke whales and more open-water humpback whales in this part of the Antarctic," whale research scientist Elanor Bell said in a statement.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that there are 60,000 humpback whales globally while the International Whaling Commission (IWC) agreed upon a population estimate of 515,000 for the Antarctic minke stock.

The research is being conducted through the IWC's Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP), supported by One Ocean Expeditions and WWF-Australia.

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