Researchers previously had a hard time getting a handle on how much a 30- to 100-foot whale ate because underwater feeding was tough to observe. Based on stomach examinations and computer models of whale metabolisms, earlier estimates suggested that most whales might eat up to 5 percent of their body weight on a feeding day. But the new study actually tracked and observed the eating habits of hundreds of living baleen whales in real time to discover that they can eat an estimated 5 to 30 percent of their body mass per day.
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