US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The process, usually inaccessible for observation, was captured.
As you know, whales are different from most other sea creatures. They are mammals and give birth to living children, and then raise them, feeding them milk rich in fats. However, observing this process is not easy, since the migration of these animals can spread throughout the world.
Scientists from the University of Hawaii, Stanford and California in the city of Santa Cruz undertook to solve this problem. Each year, about 10,000 humpback whales ( Megaptera novaeangliae ) return to the warm waters of the Hawaiian Islands to winter and produce offspring. From January to March, mothers feed their babies with milk, fortifying them before migrating to northern waters on krill-rich ocean lands.
In these winter months, mothers do not eat anything using only internal resources. The research team decided to find out how often the whales are fed and how long the feeding process takes place before migration.
In their study, scientists used non-invasive sensor arrays, including acoustic recorders, accelerometers, pressure sensors and cameras, which were able to attach to seven young whales using suction cups. The team also used drones to observe animals from the air.
As a result, scientists received not only valuable information for their research work, but also exciting shots demonstrating the interaction between female whales and their cubs.
“These are quite unique and rare shots that will allow us to quantify breastfeeding in whales, which is so important for their study,” said study co-author Lars Bader.
According to previous studies, the period of milk feeding in humpback whales lasts up to 11 months, although the cub can feed on its own at the age of 6 months. During this period, he consumes 40-45 kg of milk per day with a fat content of 45-49%. The baby remains with his mother for up to a year, occasionally – up to 2 years. Males do not participate in offspring care.
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