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Whaling Behavior

New Insights into Gray Whale Behavior

Scientists are discovering that gray whales do a lot of crazy things they didn’t know about, including performing headstands, swimming upside down, and playing their own version of “tag” between feeding episodes.

They even apparently engage in some bawdy behavior now and then.

These newly documented behaviors have resulted from the use of small drones that allow researchers to observe the whales from above with minimal disturbance. The results of the research, led by Oregon State University scientists, are being reported this week in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

“Initially we began using drones to observe the whales’ physical conditions,” said Leigh Torres, a principal investigator with the Marine Mammal Institute at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Institute and lead author on the study. “But soon we discovered that the drones can also provide us with amazing new insights into the whales’ behavior – without disturbing them in the process.”

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