For the first time ever, scientists in Antarctica attached a camera to a minke whale and captured incredible evidence of how it feeds. The camera – one of three “whale cams” funded by WWF-Australia – is part of efforts by scientists to better protect whale feeding areas in Antarctica.
The camera was secured to the whale’s body using non-invasive suction cups that are designed to fall off after 24-48 hours. In an incredible stroke of luck, the camera slid down the side of the whale but stayed attached. The resulting footage—which would not have been possible with the original camera placement—shows how the whale’s throat expands as it moves through the water and feeds.
Minke whales grow to about 29 feet and are the second smallest baleen whale. They filter primarily krill or small fish out of the water using specialized feeding plates, known as baleen, in a method known as lunge feeding.
“What was remarkable was the frequency of the lunges and how quickly they could process water and feed again, repeating the task about every 10 seconds on a feeding dive,” said Dr. Ari Friedlaender, an associate professor from the University of California Santa Cruz and lead scientist on the research. “He was like a Pac-Man continuously feeding.”