[MARMAM] New publication: Sperm whale predator-prey interactions involve chasing and buzzing, but no acoustic stunning

andrea fais andreika3 at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 1 02:22:16 PDT 2016

Dear all,

we are pleased to announce our new paper: "Sperm whale predator-prey interactions involve chasing and buzzing, but no acoustic stunning".

The paper is open acces in Scientific Reports at :

The sperm whale carries a hypertrophied nose that generates powerful 
clicks for long-range echolocation. However, it remains a conundrum how 
this bizarrely shaped apex predator catches its prey. Several hypotheses
 have been advanced to propose both active and passive means to acquire 
prey, including acoustic debilitation of prey with very powerful clicks.
 Here we test these hypotheses by using sound and movement recording 
tags in a fine-scale study of buzz sequences to relate the acoustic 
behaviour of sperm whales with changes in acceleration in their head 
region during prey capture attempts. We show that in the terminal buzz 
phase, sperm whales reduce inter-click intervals and estimated source 
levels by 1–2 orders of magnitude. As a result, received levels at the 
prey are more than an order of magnitude below levels required for 
debilitation, precluding acoustic stunning to facilitate prey capture. 
Rather, buzzing involves high-frequency, low amplitude clicks well 
suited to provide high-resolution biosonar updates during the last 
stages of capture. The high temporal resolution helps to guide motor 
patterns during occasionally prolonged chases in which prey are 
eventually subdued with the aid of fast jaw movements and/or buccal 
suction as indicated by acceleration transients (jerks) near the end of 

A. Fais, M. Johnson, M. Wilson, N. Aguilar Soto & P.T. Madsen

Best Regards,
Andrea Fais

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