Whales and Food!

Whales are making a splash (yay puns!) on the Science Now website. On Tuesday there was an article about how orcas have become less common off the coast of Antarctica. The penguin researchers who noticed, recorded, and published these observations speculate that the decline in orca populations is likely due to increased fishing pressure on the orca’s food source, Antarctica toothfish, forcing the whales to travel further to find their meals.

Yesterday, there was an article about an organ in the blue whale that helps coordinate the swimming and eating movements. Blue whales are so-called lunge-feeders; they ram very quickly into a patch of krill (which they eat), which is a movement that nearly stops them short.  The newly-discovered organ likely helps with the rotation of the jaw that occurs as the whale gulps down krill-filled water. It also seems to be primarily a sensory organ, which is quite remarkable since new sensory organs are very rarely discovered these days.

Anyways, whales are pretty interesting! Enjoy.


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