Scientists share a ‘whale’s-eye’ view

What does the world look like to a whale?

Thanks to video shared by these scientists, we finally have some idea.

U.S. and Australian scientists attached cameras to humpback whales feeding in the frigid waters off Antarctica.

The suction-cup cameras stuck for 24 hours; then release and float to the surface where scientists can collect them. The cameras include 3-D motion trackers, which record the depth, direction, and duration of every dive.

Australian Antarctic Division whale researcher Dr. Mike Double said the cameras reveal where and how the mammals forage over the summer months.

“The tags show the feeding methods used by the humpbacks in this area of Antarctica, including footage showing the whales lunge-feeding into tight swarms of krill,” Double said.

“The nonlethal research methods allow us to determine how krill abundance affects the feeding success of whales and how any change in krill population due to climate change, commercial fishing, or ocean acidification, may impact the mammals into the future,” said Dr. Ari Friedlaender from Oregon State University.

Scientists also attached electronic Limpet tags to the dorsal fins of smaller minke whales. Minke whales are faster and harder to track, so much less is known about them.

“Minkes are faster and more elusive than humpback whales and often forage in areas with lots of sea ice,” said whale expert Dr. Eleanor Bell. “This makes it challenging to find and approach them to deploy tracking equipment.”

Bell was excited to know she would be getting dive data for up to two months from each Limpet tag.

The project was coordinated through the International Whaling Commission’s Southern Ocean Research Partnership (IWC-SORP) with support from One Ocean Expeditions and the World Wildlife Fund-Australia.

 
 
 
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