Deep-diving beaked whales dive together but forage apart

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Published: 2021-01-13

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1905

Affiliations: 7

Authors: 8

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Research Highlight

Deep-diving whales coordinate foraging to avoid competition

© Mike Korostelev/Moment/Getty Images

© Mike Korostelev/Moment/Getty Images

Pods of beaked whales maintain a tight formation to protect against predators when diving to depths for food and ascending to the surface, but fan out during foraging to avoid competing for the same prey.

Animals that use sound to locate prey and hunt in groups face a trade-off between staying close enough to reduce the risk of predation, and risking interference of their echolocation signals and competition within the group.

Now, a team led by researchers from the University of La Laguna in Spain has found that the deep-diving Blainville’s and Cuvier’s beaked whales balance these competing needs. They remain close using their echolocation signals while diving and ascending, but move apart—while still remaining in contact and heading in the same direction—when foraging.

The researchers found little competition between group members or eavesdropping on each other’s echolocation while hunting for prey.

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  1. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288, 20201905 (2021). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1905
Institutions Share
University of La Laguna (ULL), Spain 0.44
Aarhus University (AU), Denmark 0.25
University of St Andrews, United Kingdom (UK) 0.13
The University of Auckland, New Zealand 0.13
University of Lisbon (ULISBOA), Portugal 0.06