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The rounded back of a blue whale is visible above the surface of calm waters.

A blue whale surfaces in the El Corcovado gulf, about 1,200 kilometres south of Santiago, ChileIvan Alvarado/Reuters

Endangered blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) feeding in the Chilean Gulf of Ancud are forced to go to great lengths to avoid running into aquaculture vessels. Researchers tracked 15 blue whales over 4 years and found that their most important summer foraging and nursing ground is overrun with ships, putting the animals at risk of collisions and noise pollution. In the animation below, one whale (shown as a blue dot) circumvents up to 1,000 boats (red dots) over the course of a week. Almost all of the ships observed (89%) belonged to the region’s extensive salmon farming industry.

The Independent | 5 min read

Reference: Nature paper

Animated sequence tracking the route of a single whale avoiding vessels in the Gulf of Ancud between 22-29 March 2019.

Luis Bedriñana-Romano

Features & opinion

Einsteinium is the heaviest element on the periodic table that can be created in sufficient quantities to be examined at macro-scales. Researchers have probed a tiny chunk of the synthetic element to reveal how it interacts with other atoms. They hope the results will shed light on all the transplutonium elements (atomic numbers 95–103) that lie at the edge of the periodic table.

Nature Podcast | 28 min listen

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Reference: Nature paper

“People like to imagine time as an objective thing, to be measured and calculated, but the truth is, time is relative, both in science (via general relativity) and in our hearts and minds,” says author Lynette Mejía of the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series. “I wanted to explore how that might play out on an interstellar scale, but I also wanted to include a gentle reminder: that it’s never too late to forgive ourselves and the ones we love.”

Nature | 4 min read

Andrew Robinson’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes the key to social change, free will on trial and an astrophysicist on a visit from extraterrestrials.

Nature | 3 min read

Where I work

Pat Brown at the Impossible Milk manufacturing plant

Patrick Brown is the founder and chief executive of Impossible Foods in Redwood City, California.Credit: Peter Prato

“Our only realistic chance of reversing climate change is to replace the animal-farming industry,” says biochemist Patrick Brown, the founder and chief executive of Impossible Foods. “We can match the nutritional value of any type of meat, for about one-twentieth of the cost, using readily available plant ingredients. The hard part is making our food taste delicious.” In this photo, Brown is at Impossible’s pilot facility in Redwood City, California, where his team makes vegetable-based haem. “Haem is the part of the haemoglobin molecule that contains iron,” explains Brown. “It’s haem that turns the amino acids, sugars, fats and vitamins in food into an explosion of flavours and aromas.”

Nature | 3 min read

Today, our peregrinating penguin is drinking in the lush riverside views of Visconde de Mauá, Brazil. Can you find Leif Penguinson?

The answer will be in Monday’s e-mail, all thanks to Briefing photo editor and penguin wrangler Tom Houghton.

This newsletter is always evolving — tell us what you think! Please send your feedback to

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Nicky Phillips and Ariana Remmel

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