Whales Have Sonar "Beam" for Targeting Prey
Precision sound beams help track fast prey in dark ocean, study says.
All toothed whales and dolphins echolocate, clicking loudly via special nasal structures and listening for echoes bouncing off objects. This skill is especially crucial in the dark ocean, where the mammals' vision is of little use.
New experiments show that whales can focus their clicks into a type of sonar beam to efficiently track fast-moving prey.
"The bottom line is echolocation is how these animals make their living," said study leader Laura Kloepper, a zoologist at the University of Hawaii in Honululu.
"Not only do they have to locate fish, they have to discriminate fish and figure out what kind of fish it is—it's this constant underwater dance between predator and prey.
"It makes sense [that] of course there has to be