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Marine ecology: Deep-sea cheetahs

J. Anim. Ecol. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01393.x (2008)

At first glance, pilot whales and cheetahs seem unlikely to have much in common, but researchers have found at least one similarity: a tendency to sprint after prey, sacrificing energy for speed. This is the first demonstration of sprinting at depth in deep-diving marine mammals.

Natacha Aguilar Soto of La Laguna University in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and her colleagues tagged 23 short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus). They found that the whales, which chase squid to depths of up to about 1,000 metres, often sprint after their food, and can reach a maximum speed of 9 metres per second. The finding contradicts the expectation that deepdiving mammals swim at slower speeds to conserve oxygen.


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Marine ecology: Deep-sea cheetahs. Nature 453, 260 (2008).

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