[MARMAM] New publication: Blue whales increase feeding rates at fine-scale ocean features (James Fahlbusch)

James Fahlbusch jamesfahlbusch at gmail.com
Mon Sep 5 11:12:56 PDT 2022

Hello everyone,

On behalf of my coauthors, I am pleased to share our recently published
titled “Blue whales increase feeding rates at fine-scale ocean features”.

Fahlbusch, J. A., Czapanskiy, M. F., Calambokidis, J., Cade, D. E.,
Abrahms, B., Hazen, E. L., & Goldbogen, J. A. (2022). Blue whales increase
feeding rates at fine-scale ocean features. *Proceedings of the Royal
Society B*, 289(1981), 20221180.

Marine predators face the challenge of reliably finding prey that is
patchily distributed in space and time. Predators make movement decisions
at multiple spatial and temporal scales, yet we have limited understanding
of how habitat selection at multiple scales translates into foraging
performance. In the ocean, there is mounting evidence that submesoscale
(i.e., <100 km) processes drive the formation of dense prey patches that
should hypothetically provide feeding hot spots and increase predator
foraging success. Here we integrated environmental remote-sensing with
high-resolution animal-borne biologging data to evaluate submesoscale
surface current features in relation to the habitat selection and foraging
performance of blue whales in the California Current System. Our study
revealed a consistent functional relationship in which blue whales
disproportionately foraged within dynamic aggregative submesoscale features
at both the regional and feeding site scales across seasons, regions, and
years. Moreover, we found that blue whale feeding rates increased in areas
with stronger aggregative features, suggesting that these features indicate
areas of higher prey density. The use of fine-scale, dynamic features by
foraging blue whales underscores the need to take these features into
account when designating critical habitat and may help inform strategies to
mitigate the impacts of human activities for the species.

The paper is open access and can be downloaded here:


Code and documentation can be found on my github page:


A knitted R-Markdown with the analysis and results for this manuscript
(including the code to produce them) can be found at:


Please contact me at musculus at stanford.edu if you have any questions.

Best regards,

James Fahlbusch

PhD Candidate

Hopkins Marine Station

Stanford University
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