WCU Biologist Adds to Groundbreaking Whale Discovery

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WCU biologist Dr. Frank Fish with a model of a humpback whale fin.

New underwater research technology has exposed a secret strategy of humpback whales that was once thought impossible by experts.

The whales can use their small front flippers to help pursue their prey, and the evidence was recently caught on tape, according to a Science News for Students report by Sharon Oosthoek.


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“Think of driving a car and hitting the gas, then hitting the brake to come to a stop, and then hitting the gas again,” said West Chester University biologist Frank Fish. That would be the equivalent of a humpback whale using only its tail to move through the water, while opening its mouth to eat creates drag that slows it down.

“By trying to maintain speed (with its flippers), this may reduce energy costs for the whale,” Fish said.

The video footage that caught the whale using its flippers to advance as it closed in on its prey was captured through video-enhanced wildlife tagging.

Read more about the new insight on whales in Science News for Students here.

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