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Stanford researchers observe unexpected flipper flapping in humpback whales

A humpback whale flaps its foreflipper. Previously, it was believed humpback whales used their front flippers only for steering but this flapping movement generates significant thrust.

A humpback whale flaps its foreflipper. Previously, it was believed humpback whales used their front flippers only for steering but this flapping movement generates significant thrust.

Goldbogen Lab
Jul 10 2017

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In the News

By Taylor Kubota

When Jeremy Goldbogen, an assistant professor of biology at Stanford University, affixed recording devices to humpback whales, it was with the hope of learning more about how the animals move in their natural environment - deep underwater and far from human’s ability to observe.

However, in the process of reviewing footage of the whales feeding in groups, he and his team noticed something unexpected. In rare instances, the cameras caught whales flapping their foreflippers like penguins or sea lions, but completely unlike anything seen before in whales.

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