Minke whales in Antarctica feed like Pac-Man: Researchers

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Sydney, Feb 16 (IANS) A small camera placed inside the body of a minke whale showed the animal feeding in a manner resembling the videogame character Pac-Man in the Antarctic waters, according to footage released on Friday.

The video, which was part of a joint US-Australia project, revealed how this cetacean moved at 24 km per hour while accelerating to eat like Pac-Man, reports Efe news.

The throat pleats of a minke, the second smallest whale species, expanded with every gulp of prey-laden water.

“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. He was like a Pac-Man continuously feeding,” said Ari Friedlaender, the lead scientist on the research.

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Minke whales, which measure around nine metres in length, feed by ingesting water containing krill or small fish, which they filter using specialized feeding plates.

“What’s amazing to me is how fast the minke swims and how quickly it can feed,” added Friedlaender.

Other larger ones such as blue or fin whales take in a huge volume of water equivalent to their body mass, but unlike the minke, take up to a minute to process each gulp.

Climate change has been a threat to minke whales as over the last 50 years sea ice has advanced two months later and retreats one month earlier in the Antarctic Peninsula.

Fishing for krill in regions such as the Antarctic Peninsula and Scotia Arc is another threat faced by the species, along with other krill predators such as penguins, seals and seabirds.

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–IANS

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