Porpoises, whales and dolphins use ‘sound searchlights’

Apr 4, 2015

By Victoria Gill

Researchers in Denmark have revealed how porpoises finely adjust the beams of sound they use to hunt.

The animals hunt with clicks and buzzes – detecting the echoes from their prey.

This study showed them switching from a narrow to a wide beam of sound – “like adjusting a flashlight” – as they homed in on a fish.

Researchers think that other whales and dolphins may use the same technique to trap a fish in their beam of sound in the final phase of an attack.

This could help prevent porpoises, whales and dolphins’ prey from evading their capture.

By revealing these acoustic secrets in detail, researchers are hoping to develop ways to prevent porpoises, and other toothed whales, from becoming trapped in fishing nets.

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