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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. (2012)

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Blue whales roll with it. Nature 491, 640 (2012).

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