Jeremy A. Goldbogen of the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, and his colleagues presented the first results of their study of the variety of whale foraging techniques in the Feb. 2013, issue of the journal BioScience that was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website on Jan. 9, 2013.
The information that produced the results was collected from by analyzing data from multisensor tags attached to the animals with suction cups, echolocation, and special software that allowed foraging dives to be visualized in three dimensions. The research necessitated the use of several research vessels and large research teams.
The purpose of the research was to evaluate feeding and foraging behavior of the majority of whale species to provide better protection for the worlds largest animals.
The results so far indicate that “Right whales and bowhead whales have a very different feeding strategy from rorquals - the group that includes the biggest animal on earth, the blue whale. Right and bowhead whales filter-feed by swimming relatively slowly through prey patches, a mode called continuous ram feeding. This keeps their energy expenditure low and makes possible dives of 10 minutes or longer, but means they miss out on prey able to take evasive action. Rorquals, in contrast, make high-speed lunges at prey patches that enable them to catch elusive species. They must then pause to filter water engulfed in their large mouths, however, and they have to surface more often to breathe than continuous ram feeders. “