How is this for a sentence to ponder?:
It’s a lot of water, the scientists have found: in one lunge, a fin whale can momentarily double its weight.
The full article is here and I'll peg it as one of the very best short pieces I've read this year. Here is another stunning excerpt:
In order to make lunge-feeding work, you have to have a really big
mouth to capture enough water in one gulp. But in order to have a big
mouth, you need a big body. And in order to keep that big body running,
you need to get a lot of food. And in the very act of getting that
food–diving deep, lunging open-mouthed, and then pushing a
school-bus-sized volume of water forwards–requires a lot of energy on
Goldbogen and his colleagues wondered what sort of trade-off
lunge-feeding whales faced between the costs and the benefits of eating
like a parachute. To find out, they took advantage of measurements
scientists made of hundreds of fin whales at whaling stations in the
For the pointer I thank Carl Zimmer. Herman Melville would have been proud.