For the first time bowhead whales have been filmed rubbing themselves on rocks to remove dead skin in Cumberland Sound in Nunavut, northern Canada.
While local inuits and whalers had previously documented seeing whales taking part in this activity it had never been clear why. Now, with the help of drones, researchers have been able to see that large pieces of dead skin are removed during the process with the findings published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
Bowhead whales are only found in the arctic and can live in excess of 200 years.
The footage here was taken by trained drone operators to carefully avoid disturbing the whales. Drones should always be used responsibly and where appropriate under permit, with minimal disturbance to the wildlife (or people!).
Evidence of molting and the function of “rock-nosing” behavior in bowhead whales in the eastern Canadian Arctic
Sarah M. E. Fortune, William R. Koski, Jeff W. Higdon, Andrew W. Trites, Mark F. Baumgartner, Steven H. Ferguson