Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Zoology

Blue whales roll with it

Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) can perform 360 ° rolls, an impressive manoeuvre for the largest animal ever to have lived.

Jeremy Goldbogen of the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, and his colleagues tagged blue whales off the coast of California with sensors that provided information regarding the animals' speed, depth and body orientation. Of 22 whales tagged for an average of 6.7 hours, 11 were recorded performing rolls. In total, 44 rolls were observed, all during foraging.

The authors suggest that these rolls serve a dual purpose, allowing the animal both to re-orient its body to capture the maximum amount of krill prey, and to better visualize the prey and its surroundings.

Biol. Lett. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.0986 (2012)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Blue whales roll with it. Nature 491, 640 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/491640d

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/491640d

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing