Leave or stay? Video-logger revealed foraging efficiency of humpback whales under temporal change in prey density

Yu Akiyama, Tomonari Akamatsu, Marianne Rasmussen, Maria R. Iversen, Takashi Iwata, Yusuke Goto, Kagari Aoki, Katsufumi Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Central place foraging theory (CPF) has been used to predict the optimal patch residence time for air-breathing marine predators in response to patch quality. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) forage on densely aggregated prey, which may induce drastic change in prey density in a single feeding event. Thus, the decision whether to leave or stay after each feeding event in a single dive in response to this drastic change, should have a significant effect on prey exploitation efficiency. However, whether humpback whales show adaptive behavior in response to the diminishing prey density in a single dive has been technically difficult to test. Here, we studied the foraging behavior of humpback whales in response to change in prey density in a single dive and calculated the efficiency of each foraging dive using a model based on CPF approach. Using animal-borne accelerometers and video loggers attached to whales, foraging behavior and change in relative prey density in front of the whales were successfully quantified. Results showed diminishing rate of energy intake in consecutive feeding events, and humpback whales efficiently fed by bringing the rate of energy intake close to maximum in a single dive cycle. This video-based method also enabled us to detect the presence of other animals around the tagged whales, showing an interesting trend in behavioral changes where feeding duration was shorter when other animals were present. Our results have introduced a new potential to quantitatively investigate the effect of other animals on free-ranging top predators in the context of optimal foraging theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0211138
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2019

Other keywords

  • Humpback whales
  • Foraging
  • Predation
  • Whales
  • Acceleration
  • Accelerometers
  • Animal behavior
  • Oxygen
  • Hvalir
  • Hnúfubakur
  • Fæðuöflun dýra
  • Rándýr


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