Paolo S. Segre, Stanford University
William T. Gough, Stanford University
Edward A. Roualdes, California State University, Chico
David E. Cade, Stanford University
Max F. Czapanskiy, Stanford University
James Fahlbusch, Stanford University
Shirel R. Kahane-Rapport, Stanford University
William K. Oestreich, Stanford University
Lars Bejder, University of Hawaii at Manoa
K. C. Bierlich, Duke University
Julia A. Burrows, Duke University
John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA
Ellen M. Chenoweth, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Jacopo di Clemente, Aarhus University
John W. Durban, Southall Environmental Associates Inc, Aptos, CA
Holly Fearnbach, SR3, SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation & Research, Des Moines, WA
Frank E. Fish, West Chester University of PennsylvaniaFollow
Ari S. Friedlaender, University of California, Santa Cruz
Peter Hegelund, Greenland Climate Research Center
David W. Johnston, Duke University
Douglas P. Nowacek, Duke University
Machiel G. Oudejans, Kelp Marine Research, Hoorn, Netherlands
Gwenith S. Penry, Nelson Mandela University
Jean Potvin, Saint Louis University
Malene Simon, Greenland Climate Research Center
Andrew Stanworth, Falklands Conservatory
Janice M. Straley, University of Alaska, Southeast
Andrew Szabo, Alaska Whale Foundation, Petersburg, AK
Simone K. A. Videsen, Aarhus University
Fleur Visser, Kelp Marine Research, Hoorn, Netherlands
Caroline R. Weir, Falklands Conservatory
David N. Wiley, NOAA Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Scituate, MA
Jeremy A. Goldbogen, Stanford University

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Despite their enormous size, whales make their living as voracious predators. To catch their much smaller, more maneuverable prey, they have developed several unique locomotor strategies that require high energetic input, high mechanical power output and a surprising degree of agility. To better understand how body size affects maneuverability at the largest scale, we used bio-logging data, aerial photogrammetry and a high-throughput approach to quantify the maneuvering performance of seven species of free-swimming baleen whale. We found that as body size increases, absolute maneuvering performance decreases: larger whales use lower accelerations and perform slower pitch changes, rolls and turns than smaller species. We also found that baleen whales exhibit positive allometry of maneuvering performance: relative to their body size, larger whales use higher accelerations, and perform faster pitch-changes, rolls and certain types of turns than smaller species. However, not all maneuvers were impacted by body size in the same way, and we found that larger whales behaviorally adjust for their decreased agility by using turns that they can perform more effectively. The positive allometry of maneuvering performance suggests that large whales have compensated for their increased body size by evolving more effective control surfaces and by preferentially selecting maneuvers that play to their strengths.

Publication Title

Journal of Experimental Biology




Company Biologists LTD





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Biomechanics Commons