Scientists tracking humpback whales discover new feeding techniques

By on October 7, 2013
Humpback whale (Credit: NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons)

Humpback whale (Credit: NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons)

New NOAA research shows that humpback whales use a several bottom feeding techniques not previously associated with the species, according to a release from the agency.

Conducted in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the research reveals three undiscovered feeding techniques: side-rolls, side-roll inversions, and a scooping maneuver. This feeding behavior makes whales more vulnerable to entanglement in seafloor fishing gear, one of the leading causes of death for the species.

Prior to the study, the “bubble net” method of feeding was believed to be the most common among whales, however the new research indicates otherwise.

Video cameras and digital acoustic recording tags were attached to the back of the whales to monitor their feeding techniques. The tags automatically release after a few hours and float to the surface where they are collected.

Image: Humpback whale (Credit: NOAA, via Wikimedia Commons)

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