How Much Food Does A Humpback Whale Eat Every Day – The blue whale, the largest animal in the world, can consume up to 16 tons of plankton per day, which has a huge impact on the health of the ocean.
Humpback whales (pictured, an animal in California) excrete large amounts of iron waste that is essential to the ocean’s food cycle.
How Much Food Does A Humpback Whale Eat Every Day
Because baleen whales (humpback whales, right whales, blue whales, and others) often feed at depths of hundreds of meters, we cannot easily observe their behavior. And it would not be desirable or possible to try to answer the question by having such large animals (blue whales, one hundred feet long, are the largest on earth) in captivity to observe their behavior. eat every day. Also, some types of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type of type in some cases, they eat food for about months, then they fast for a year, making it difficult to track the food they eat.
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“This is a fundamental question, I think we would have figured it out 30, 40, 50 years ago, but no one has ever measured it,” said Matthew Savoca, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in Hopkins, California. National Geographic Explorer.
For Savoca, the question goes beyond basic science and burning curiosity. The amount of whales they eat is proportional to the amount they earn. And whale excrement is an important part of the ocean’s output, providing vital energy and nutrients for a wide variety of marine life.
Recently, Savoca, with the help of international partners, set out to find the answer. The team fitted baleen whales – named for the material on their jaw plates, which capture small prey such as krill and zooplankton – in the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern oceans with tracking technology. They also used drones to measure the abundance of krill.
The results, published on November 3 in Nature, are surprising: baleen whales eat more food than previously estimated. For example, a blue whale eats an average of 16 tons of food per day, almost three times more than scientists thought. (Learn more about the hidden world of whale culture.)
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“This study shows that baleen whales play a bigger role in our environment than we thought,” said Sian Henley, a marine biologist at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study. This is because the 14 known species of baleen whales are important in moving important nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen and iron through the ocean, mainly by excreting them.
The new information, Henley said, also tells us that we need to improve ocean protection and management at the largest possible scale, especially in the Southern Ocean. The waters around Antarctica are particularly vulnerable to human impacts, mainly due to warming climate change and fish disrupting their normal food supply, which can also harm krill and other food sources. This would be especially harmful, as these fish are still recovering from generations of whaling.
As the whales continue to recover, their role in recycling nutrients should restore the ecosystem and boost krill again, he said.
To estimate how much baleen whales eat, scientists first analyzed their nutritional needs based on their size and activity level using a related or similar animal as a reference. For example, by measuring how much killer whales (or killer whales) eat, biologists deduced that they would eat whales or blue whales.
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“When you look at the behavior, the ecology and the biology of these animals,” Savoca said, “a blue whale and a humpback whale are very different from each other.” He allowed that the first attempt “is better than nothing, but it’s not really a good guess.”
For their research, Savoca’s team tagged 321 fish belonging to seven species of baleen whales: humpbacks, blue whales, minke whales, fin whales, Antarctic minke whales, Bryde’s whales and North Atlantic right whales. (Check out the world’s largest animal lung for dinner).
Savoca describes the tags (devices equipped with accelerometers, magnetometers, GPS, light sensors, gyroscopes and cameras attached to the whale’s back with a special adhesive) as “whale iPhones.” Just as our phones can tell us how many steps we take in a day, iPhones with whales can measure the number of whale lunges and the depth. Whales usually catch food by breathing, or running through the water in quick bursts, horizontally or vertically, with their mouths.
A whale that was tagged in a recent survey came out of the water to feed. Whales have baleen plates in their mouths that filter out small prey.
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The team also used drones to measure the size of the fish’s mouth, which allowed them to calculate how much water it could take in during that lunge. Using sonar to measure the amount of krill living in the whale’s habitat allowed them to determine how many of these tiny shrimp-like animals the whale can swallow with each lung.
Together, they found that the tagged animals ate between 5 and 30 percent of their body weight in krill each day. Previous estimates show that baleen whales consume less than 5 percent of their body weight each day.
The findings also help solve another puzzle, Savoca said: Why aren’t Antarctic oceans full of krill? Bald whales, the first small hunters, were nearly wiped out in the 1900s, an era of industrial whaling that Savoca calls “one of the most effective and efficient campaigns in world history.”
Although people are increasingly harvesting krill for fishmeal and edible oil, the industry isn’t doing enough to explain why polar waters aren’t full of this important food source for whales, seals and more, according to Savoca. .
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In the late 1980s, marine biologist John Martin hypothesized that a lack of iron in the Southern Ocean limited the amount of phytoplankton, which is the main food source for krill. Plants and animals only need a certain amount of iron, but they cannot live without it. (Read why the South Sea is the fifth and youngest ocean.)
Previous tests have shown that whale excrement is some of the most iron-rich substances in the ocean. Together with dust from the Sahara desert and other terrestrial sources, this source of iron forms the backbone of the Southern Ocean iron cycle. By eating, digesting and excreting krill, whales take iron from the ocean’s depths and bring it to the surface in their floating feces, converting it for use by tiny phytoplankton, krill’s main prey. More sewage creates a positive loop as more phytoplankton means more krill, which can support more fish.
Since Antarctic fish populations, particularly right whales and minke, are still on the rise, it makes sense that krill have yet to recover, Savoca said. But there are positive signs: the number of whales in the western South Atlantic has risen from just 450 to 25,000 in the mid-20th century.
Emma Cavan, a marine biologist at Imperial College London, praised the findings but said it was a “simplistic solution” to say that “krill numbers have gone down because whale numbers have gone down”. Climate change and fishing also play a role.
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For example, the climate is changing rapidly in the polar regions, and the resulting changes, such as warmer, more acidic water, can reduce the abundance of phytoplankton.
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Scientists investigated a whale by boat and drone in surface waters near the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Duke University Marine Remote Sensing and Robotics Laboratory under NOAA Permit 14809-03 and ACA Permits 2015-011 and 2020-016 hide caption
Duke University Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Laboratory under NOAA Permit 14809-03 and ACA Permits 2015-011 and 2020-016
Scientists investigated a whale by boat and drone in surface waters near the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The largest animals to ever live on Earth evolved more food than scientists thought, according to a new study of whale feeding, showing how their diet may be a process of recycling nutrients in the sea.
Blue Whales Eat Three Times More Than Scientists Previously Estimated
Researchers report that baleen whales, such as blue, fin, minke and humpback whales, consume, on average, about three times more per year than previously recommended statistics.
. A blue whale in the eastern North Pacific, for example, can eat 10 to 20 tons of food per day.
“That amount of food is somewhere in the range of 20 to 50 million calories,” said Matthew Savoca, a researcher at Stanford University and lead author of the new study. “That’s 70,000 to 80,000 Big Macs. It’s probably been a few years since we’ve eaten them. So that’s amazing.”
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