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November 28 2012
The world's largest animal can be as agile as a ballet dancer when it is hungry. Video cameras and motion sensors strapped to 22 blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) reveal that they sometimes incorporate underwater pirouettes â€” 360Âº body rolls â€” as they lunge at patches of krill from below.
The 30-second manoeuvre â€” two half turns, performed either side of engulfing a meal â€” enables the whales to position their jaws underneath their prey and to take the biggest mouthful possible before the krill scatter, says Jeremy Goldbogen, a zoologist at the Cascadia Research Collective in Washington, who led the work. The findings are published today in Biology Letters.
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