Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How humpback whales catch prey with bubble nets

Date:
June 27, 2011
Source:
Brill
Summary:
Marine biologist explain how humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine catch prey with advanced water technology. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are large baleen whales (up to 14 m long) that feed on a small prey in dense concentrations, such as krill or herrings.

Humpback whales catch prey with bubble-net.
Credit: Image courtesy of Brill

Marine biologist David Wiley of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and others report in the latest issue of Behaviour how humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine catch prey with advanced water technology.

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are large baleen whales (up to 14 m long) that feed on a small prey in dense concentrations, such as krill or herrings. Humpbacks whales have large flukes relative to their size providing greater thrust for quick maneuvers. While other baleen whales feed by swimming rapidly forward, humpbacks are adapted for fine-scale movement to create bubble nets.

Behaviorally, humpback whales capture prey by engaging in complex feeding maneuvers that are often accompanied by the apparently directed use of air bubble clouds (the production of single or multiple bursts of seltzer-sized bubbles) to corral or herd fish. These whales create bubble nets to corral and contain planktonic prey into a small area so that they can more efficiently scoop them up in their large filter-feeding mouths. Based on surface observations, these bubble-feeding behaviors appear to vary in nature among both individuals and regions.

To learn more about how these whales use bubble nets in feeding, David Wiley and colleagues attached digital suction cup tags to whales that recorded depth and orientation in 3-D, allowing the scientists to recreate three dimensional images of whale swimming behavior and bubble release. The data revealed the release of bubbles while swimming in upward spirals and during a novel behavior called "double-loops" not previously known. Double-loops consist of one upward spiral to corral the prey, a smack of the fluke on the ocean surface (known as a "lobtail") then a second upward lunge to capture the corralled prey. This sequence of tools and targeting of prey seems as complex as the tool use of apes in the forest.

The study also reports that humpback whales work in teams of at least two individuals and are not beyond robbing the prey from the bubble nets set up by others.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Wiley, Colin Ware, Alessandro Bocconcelli, Danielle Cholewiak, Ari Friedlaender, Michael Thompson, Mason Weinrich. Underwater components of humpback whale bubble-net feeding behaviour. Behaviour, 2011; 148 (5): 575 DOI: 10.1163/000579511X570893

Cite This Page:

Brill. "How humpback whales catch prey with bubble nets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624083516.htm>.
Brill. (2011, June 27). How humpback whales catch prey with bubble nets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624083516.htm
Brill. "How humpback whales catch prey with bubble nets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110624083516.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins