CORAL, KRILL AND WHALES
Blue whales feed almost exclusively on krill, though they also take small numbers of copepods. The species of this zooplankton eaten by blue whales varies from ocean to ocean. An adult blue whale can eat up to 40 million krill in a day. The whales always feed in the areas with the highest concentration of krill, sometimes eating up to 7,900 lbs of krill in a single day. The daily energy requirement of an adult blue whale is in the region of 1.5 million kilocalories. Blue whales gorge on krill in the rich waters of the Antarctic before migrating to their breeding grounds in the warmer, less-rich waters nearer the equator.
Because krill move, blue whales typically feed at depths of more than 100 meters (330 ft) during the day and only surface-feed at night. Dive times are typically 10 minutes when feeding, though dives of up to 21 minutes are possible. The whale feeds by lunging forward at groups of krill, taking the animals and a large quantity of water into its mouth. The water is then squeezed out through the baleen plates by pressure from the ventral pouch and tongue. Once the mouth is clear of water, the remaining krill, unable to pass through the plates, are swallowed. The blue whale also incidentally consumes small fish, crustaceans and squid caught up with krill.
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