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• The Atlantic reports on a new study showing how blue whales lean on their memory to guide their epic migrations and the problems they can encounter.
• What can studies and data like this tell us about other animal migrations? How can we support new discoveries on animal memory?
Imagine trying to test the memory of the blue whale—the biggest animal that exists or has ever existed, a 190-ton behemoth that dwarfs even the largest dinosaur, a leviathan that is rarely seen except when it comes up for air and a minute part of its 110-foot-long body breaks the surface and slowly crests for what seems like an eternity. How would you subject such a creature to a psychological test?
You can’t, exactly. But there is another way to get a sense of how their minds work. For years, scientists have been fitting radio tags to these giants to track their whereabouts. By analyzing a decade’s worth of that data, Briana Abrahmsfrom the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has shown thatthese animals fine-tune the paths of their epic migrations to track the historical abundances of krill—the tiny crustaceans that they eat. Rather than finding where their prey currently is, they go after the places where their prey was in years past. Their migrations, in other words, are guided by memory. So what happens in a world where memory might lead them astray?
Read the full article on the studies of blue whales migration by Ed Yong at The Atlantic