Humpback whales have a trick or two when it comes to finding a quick snack at the bottom of the ocean. But how they pinpoint that meal at night, with little or no available light, remains a mystery.
Susan Parks, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with a consortium of other researchers, has been studying these unique feeding behaviors. Her research emphasizes the importance of specific auditory cues that these mammoth creatures emit as they search the deep ocean for their prey.
Her findings are the subject of an article in the December issue of Scientific Reports ("Evidence for acoustic communication among bottom foraging humpback whales," 2014), co-authored by researchers at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Oregon State University, Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Whale Center of New England.
"Humpback whales are known to cooperate with others to corral prey near the surface," says Parks, who studies marine science and acoustic communication. "Recent studies suggest they may cooperate [with each other], when feeding on bottom prey, as well."
Parks was part of a collaborative multi-institutional consortium that has spent a decade monitoring humpback feeding behaviors in the Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of Massachusetts. Whales were tagged with special underwater recording devices so Parks could determine how specific acoustic sounds correlated with successful seafloor feeding.
The investigation revealed that whales make "tick-tock" noises while hunting together at night in deep, pitch-black water, but are silent when hunting alone.
On the menu? Mostly sand lance—eel-like fish known to bury themselves in the sand of the ocean floor. Parks suggests that whales' vocal sounds may help flush the sand lance out of hiding to where they're scooped up and eaten.
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 behavior suggest that other whales who overhear the sounds are attracted to them and may eavesdrop on other whales hunting for food," Parks adds.
Prior to joining Syracuse's faculty in 2011, Parks held various appointments at Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the U.S. government's highest honor for scientists and engineers.
Amy Manley | EurekAlert!
Molecular Force Sensors
20.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs
20.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
20.09.2017 | Life Sciences
20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy