Blue Ocean Institute

Oct 19th
2009

From the Eye of the Albatrosses

Scientists recently captured images of Black-browed Albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophrys) following a Killer Whale.

A camera showed albatrosses following a whale, perhaps for food. (courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey)

A camera showed albatrosses following a whale, perhaps for food. (courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey)

Scientists from Hokkaido University in Japan and the British Antarctic Survey attached cameras and depth and temperature sensors (all weighing less than 3 ounces!) to four birds in the southern Atlantic.

They reviewed the photos and data taken and noticed an image that captured fellow Albatrosses following a Killer Whale.  Using data from the depth sensors, the scientists were able to tell the Albatross fitted with the camera was was actively diving at the time of the Killer Whale pic (as opposed to infrequently at other times).

So what does it all mean?  It’s thought that the Albatrosses were feeding on scraps left behind by the whale, which “may partially explain how albatrosses find their prey more efficiently in the apparently ‘featureless’ ocean, with a minimal requirement for energetically costly diving or landing activities”.  Read the full article anstract here.

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