Marine Mammals

Blue whales lack the ability to avoid cargo ships, says Stanford biologist

As the largest animals in the ocean, blue whales have not evolved defensive behaviors. New research by Stanford biologist Jeremy Goldbogen suggests this might explain why the whales are so prone to ship collisions.

GPS data from a blue whale shows the animal (blue dots) rising to the surface and then slowly dipping and narrowly missing a cargo ship (red dots) before diving deep once again.

For millions of years, blue whales have cruised the world’s oceans with hardly a care, their sheer size making them largely free from predator attacks. The downside to being the largest animals in history, however, is that the species was never pressured to evolve defensive behaviors.

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