This is the first time that the very rarely seen nursing behavior of a whale calf has been caught on film.
This is the world’s first film footage showing a blue whale calf engaged in nursing behavior with its mother. The footage was taken by wildlife videographer Patrick Dykstra, who followed the pair of whales for around five or six hours off the coast of Sri Lanka.
“I’ve spent a huge amount of time with blue whales and I’d never seen anything like it,” said Dykstra.
So, when the whale calf is hungry it lets the mother know by moving beneath her at her mammary glands. It nudges the mother there at her glands. It is thought that this nudging by the baby is what stimulates the mother to prepare for nursing.
The mother’s nipple is normally inverted, but when her mammary glands are stimulated by the calf’s nudging her nipple extends and the baby moves into position.
Once the baby is in position at the nipple the eighty-foot long mother ejects her milk into the calf’s mouth. The whale calf’s behavior is obviously instinctual, as it is with other mammals, but it seems like a more complicated process. The footage is of course very rare.
“It was incredibly unique footage,” said Dykstra, ” because blue whales are the biggest animal to ever inhabit the planet, and yet no-one had ever filmed a baby nursing from its mother before.”
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