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Wed, Oct. 16

Researcher captures striking Antarctic video of minke whale

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Marine mammal expert Dr. Regina Eisert thought minke whales were a little boring until she captured some striking footage of one swimming underwater near Antarctica. Now she thinks they're beautiful.

Eisert said the whales look similar from the surface but that she gained a new appreciation for their individuality after seeing the markings on one up close. She said her team got the underwater video by luck. They'd planned to film underwater for two weeks but managed to get just 90 minutes of footage before running into technical problems.

A researcher at the University of Canterbury, Eisert said they were in Antarctica earlier this year mainly to research orcas in the Ross Sea. But she said their observations of minke whales could shed new light on their feeding patterns.

"Baleen whales are an important part of the ecosystem, but they're grossly understudied," she said.

The conventional thinking has been that minke whales mainly chase krill, Eisert said. But she couldn't see any krill where the whales were swimming.

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