Humpback whales stay longer in Antarctic waters than previously believed, according to a new study from Duke University.
Humpbacks migrate from feeding grounds around Antarctica in summer to breeding grounds around Central America, Africa, and New Zealand in winter. The precise timing has not been known, but researchers believed that the whales headed north when the ice started moving in.
The study found that humpback whales stick around to feed on krill, which overwinter under the ice in deep coastal waters around Antarctica. Whales still need to breathe, so once the ice shuts, they do leave. However, with a warming climate reducing ice cover, non-reproducing whales might not have to leave Antarctica at all.
Humpback whales feeding via Shutterstock