Whales’ ‘super groups’ mystify researchers

Whales’ ‘super groups’ mystify researchers

Marine biologists are struggling to figure out why humpback whales, typically solitary creatures, are hanging out in densely packed “super groups” off the coast of South Africa.

Experts said humpback whales typically hang out in groups of up to 20, but they are suddenly hanging out in group of up to 200, and they are focused on feeding.

Lead researcher Ken Findlay said, “When you’re in a small boat with 200 humpback whales around you — they’re 14-meter animals — and you’ve got whales popping up all around you, it’s a really incredible experience.”

Precise reason for the whales’ this recent novel behavior pattern remains speculative. However, some experts believe that it could be because of swelling numbers of humpback whales in the region in addition to abundance of prey.

The findings are based on observations conducted during October and November, which are spring-summer months in South Africa, in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

The researchers from South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs reported their findings in the latest edition of the PLOS One journal.


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