Australian Antarctic Division Public Seminar: Foraging ecology of mysticete cetaceans of the Western Antarctic Peninsula

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) hosts the Antarctic Seminar Series to provide an opportunity to showcase work undertaken through the Australian Antarctic program and related Antarctic activities. The general public are encouraged and welcome to attend.
Douglas P. Nowacek, from Duke University in the US, presents ‘Foraging ecology of mysticete cetaceans of the Western Antarctic Peninsula’.
Using a multi-scale and interdisciplinary approach, we have been studying the foraging ecology of minke and humpback whales along the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP).  Combining fine scale observations of whale foraging behavior with measurements of their primary prey species, Antarctic krill, we have been studying their dive behavior and use of krill patches in the bays of the WAP.  Rorqual whales such as minkes and humpbacks have evolved an enlarged buccal cavity, distendible throat pleats, an invertible tongue, and comb-like baleen that act in concert to allow these animals to lunge and consume large volumes of prey-laden water that can exceed the mass of the whale itself.  Using the multi-sensor tags we are able to measure the lunging behavior of the whales and match these to the krill patch densities, allowing us to begin to address questions of optimal foraging theory.
More Info