[MARMAM] New paper on blue whale feeding behavior

Brandon Southall brandon.southall at sea-inc.net
Mon Dec 10 08:25:40 PST 2012

MARMAM subscribers,

We are proud to announce the publication of a new paper on blue whale 
feeding behavior that features tagging data collected within the 
Southern California Behavioral Response Study (SOCAL-BRS) project. The 
paper is entitled “Underwater acrobatics by the world’s largest 
predator: 360° rolling manoeuvres by lunge-feeding blue whales“ Dr. 
Jeremy Goldbogen, a post-doctoral researcher at Cascadia Research, was 
the lead author paper with a number of other colleagues, including 
partners from the SOCAL-BRS team.

You can link to the paper at: 
<http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/9/1/20120986> and to the 
video supplement at:

The full citation of the paper is: Goldbogen JA, Calambokidis J, 
Friedlaender AS, Francis J, DeRuiter SL, Stimpert AK, Falcone E, 
Southall BL. 2012. Underwater acrobatics by the world’s largest 
predator: 360° rolling manoeuvres by lunge-feeding blue whales. Biol 
Lett 9:20120986. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.0986 and the 
abstract of the paper is given below.

ABSTRACT: The extreme body size of blue whales requires a high-energy 
intake and therefore demands efficient foraging strategies. As an 
obligate lunge feeder on aggregations of small zooplankton, blue whales 
engulf a large volume of prey-laden water in a single, rapid gulp. The 
efficiency of this feeding mechanism is strongly dependent on the amount 
of prey that can be captured during each lunge, yet food resources tend 
to be patchily-distributed in both space and time. Here, we measured the 
three-dimensional kinematics and foraging behaviour of blue whales 
feeding on krill, using suction-cup attached multi-sensor tags. Our 
analyses revealed 360° rolling lunge-feeding manoeuvres that reorient 
the body and position the lower jaws so that a krill patch can be 
engulfed with the whale’s body inverted. We also recorded these rolling 
behaviours when whales were in a searching mode in between lunges, 
suggesting that this behavior also enables the whale to visually process 
the prey field and maximize foraging efficiency by surveying for the 
densest prey aggregations. These results reveal the complex 
manoeuvrability that is required for large rorqual whales to exploit 
prey patches and highlight the need to fully understand the 
three-dimensional interactions between predator and prey in the natural 

Additionally, please see the following links to some of the media 
coverage of these new and intriguing findings about foraging behavior in 
blue whales.

Note: many of the above links include photos of blue whales but not all 
include the relevant permit information (as requested); all photos taken 
during the SOCAL-BRS project were obtained under NMFS permit #14534.

Brandon L. Southall, Ph.D.
President, Senior Scientist, SEA, Inc.
Research Associate, University of California, Santa Cruz
9099 Soquel Drive, Suite 8, Aptos, CA 95003, USA
831.332.8744 (mobile); 831.661.5177 (office); 831.661.5178 (fax)
Brandon.Southall at sea-inc.net; www.sea-inc.net

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