Title

Whale Feeding: Using Vocalizations to Determine Success

Poster Number

14B

Lead Author Major

Biological sciences

Lead Author Status

Junior

Second Author Major

Pre-dentistry

Second Author Status

Sophomore

Third Author Major

Biological Sciences

Third Author Status

Junior

Fourth Author Major

Biological Sciences

Fourth Author Status

Junior

Format

Poster Presentation (Research Day, April 30)

Faculty Mentor Name

Stacie Hooper

Faculty Mentor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract/Artist Statement

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are large cetaceans with a complex and varied vocal repertoire, and we are just beginning to understand the variation in humpback whale communication and the function of different types of vocalizations within the social dynamic. On the summer feeding grounds humpback whales can form temporary social groups to perform a cooperative foraging behavior known as bubble-net feeding. One whale blows a stream of bubbles while swimming in a circle underneath a school of fish which pushes them to the surface. At the same time, other whales produce loud, low frequency calls known as food calls which likely serve to stun or confuse the fish, making it easier to corral them in the bubble net (Hanser, 2009). Along with food calls, these whales produce a variety of other call types which likely aid in coordinating the group during hunting events. Because their energetic demands are so high, and the feeding season is so brief, there is pressure to perform this behavior successfully. We hypothesized that successful feeding attempts would be accompanied by the loud exhalation of the whales on surfacing (the ‘blow’) as they swallow a mouthful of fish. Unsuccessful feeding attempts would instead be accompanied by a variety of harsh sounding, low frequency social calls which may serve to release tension or frustration in the group members, or to aid in coordinating another feeding attempt.

Location

Information Commons, William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center

Start Date

30-4-2022 1:00 PM

End Date

30-4-2022 3:00 PM

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Apr 30th, 1:00 PM Apr 30th, 3:00 PM

Whale Feeding: Using Vocalizations to Determine Success

Information Commons, William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are large cetaceans with a complex and varied vocal repertoire, and we are just beginning to understand the variation in humpback whale communication and the function of different types of vocalizations within the social dynamic. On the summer feeding grounds humpback whales can form temporary social groups to perform a cooperative foraging behavior known as bubble-net feeding. One whale blows a stream of bubbles while swimming in a circle underneath a school of fish which pushes them to the surface. At the same time, other whales produce loud, low frequency calls known as food calls which likely serve to stun or confuse the fish, making it easier to corral them in the bubble net (Hanser, 2009). Along with food calls, these whales produce a variety of other call types which likely aid in coordinating the group during hunting events. Because their energetic demands are so high, and the feeding season is so brief, there is pressure to perform this behavior successfully. We hypothesized that successful feeding attempts would be accompanied by the loud exhalation of the whales on surfacing (the ‘blow’) as they swallow a mouthful of fish. Unsuccessful feeding attempts would instead be accompanied by a variety of harsh sounding, low frequency social calls which may serve to release tension or frustration in the group members, or to aid in coordinating another feeding attempt.