Whales sing for supper
Whales make \"tick-tock\" noises while hunting together, a technique that helps them to find their prey, mostly sand lance-eel-like fish, which are known to bury themselves in the sand of the ocean floor at night, new research says.
New York: Whales make "tick-tock" noises while hunting together, a technique that helps them to find their prey, mostly sand lance-eel-like fish, which are known to bury themselves in the sand of the ocean floor at night, new research says.
The whales' vocal sounds may help flush the sand lance out of hiding to where they are scooped up and eaten, the researchers said.
The clock-like sounds created by whales may also serve as a dinner bell of sorts for other nearby whales during late-night feedings.
"Hints of behaviour suggest that other whales who overhear the sounds are attracted to them and may eavesdrop on other whales hunting for food," said Susan Parks, assistant professor of biology at Syracuse University in New York.
Her research emphasises the importance of specific auditory cues that these mammoth creatures emit as they search the deep ocean for their prey.
"Humpback whales are known to cooperate with others to corral prey near the surface," Parks said.
"Recent studies suggest they may cooperate (with each other), when feeding on bottom prey, as well," she added.
Parks was part of a collaborative multi-institutional consortium that has spent a decade monitoring humpback feeding behaviours in the Gerry E Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of Massachusetts.
The study appeared in the journal Scientific Reports.
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