Rapid echolocation helps toothed whales seize speedy prey


A harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Credit: Jakob H. Kristensen/Fjord and Belt(CC BY 4.0)

Whales use a mixture of speedy echolocation changes and nimble mind responses to zero in on fast-moving prey, suggests a examine revealed right this moment in eLife.

The findings present that echolocating whales‘ brains reply at speeds akin to visible predators as they aim their prey. New insights on how these distinctive animals hunt might help efforts to guard them within the wild.

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“Visual animals must respond quickly to sudden movements of their prey or predators,” says first creator Heather Vance, Postgraduate Student on the Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK. “For example, primates’ vision allows them to respond to sudden movements in as little as 50 milliseconds—less than the blink of an eye. But what about whales that use echolocation? We wanted to know if echolocators have a way to lock onto prey movements, like visual animals do, when they close in for the kill and how quickly they can react to prey movements.”

To reply these questions, Vance and her worldwide staff used a non-invasive methodology to observe the sound and movement of whales. They hooked up sound and motion loggers utilizing suction cups to 6 wild harbor porpoises, which hunt in shallow waters off Denmark, and eight Blainville’s beaked whales, deep-diving animals that stay off the Canary Islands. They then analyzed information on each the clicking sounds emitted by the whales and the echoes that assist them monitor the actions of their prey.

Both kinds of whales quickly tailored their clicking fee as they tracked their prey, emitting as many as 500 clicks per second whereas in scorching pursuit. Whales responded to sudden adjustments within the place of their prey in as little as 50 to 200 milliseconds by adapting their clicking fee.

“Despite the high clicking rates of the whales, their response speeds were similar to visual responses in monkeys and humans, suggesting that their brains may be wired in much the same way as visual animals,” Vance explains.

The authors add that understanding extra about how echolocation works will assist scientists higher perceive how echolocation advanced, and the way noise from ships and different human actions might intervene with the power of whales to hunt. This perception might have potential implications for the animals’ survival.

“Many whale populations are shrinking, which has led to efforts to help protect them,” concludes senior creator Mark Johnson, Associate Professor on the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. “Knowing what conditions allow these animals to thrive will make conservation efforts all the more effective.”

Echolocation found to be cheap for deep-diving whales

More data:
Heather Vance et al, Echolocating toothed whales use ultra-fast echo-kinetic responses to trace evasive prey, eLife (2021). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.68825

Journal data:

Rapid echolocation helps toothed whales seize speedy prey (2021, October 26)
retrieved 26 October 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-rapid-echolocation-toothed-whales-capture.html

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