Feeding and Echolocation in Whales
By Robbie Bodnar
•Toothed whales use echolocation
for hunting their prey
•Baleen whales use baleen plates to
obtain huge quantities of food.
•Sequences of clicks, grunts, moans, squeals and chirps are generated.
•Some sequences can last up to 10 minutes.
•Air is passed by the phonic lips below the blowhole. Sound is amplified and
directed by the melon.
•Incoming sounds pass through the lower jaw to the middle ear where it is
converted into a 3D picture.
Single Sperm Whale
Pod of Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale Echolocation
• Sperm whales dive to great depths with no light to hunt giant
• Killer whales swim in pods to locate prey and are believed to
communicate with one another to strategize.
• Beaked whales need it for navigation but are highly effected
by acoustic pollution.
•Baleen whales swim with their mouth open at the ocean surface.
•Water and organisms enter the mouth.
•The tongue is pressed up to the roof of the mouth which forces water out.
•Small organisms like copepods, krill and some fish get trapped in the baleen
Humpback Bubble Feeding
•Whale dives down
•As it surfaces it swims in a spiral pattern while
•The result is a column of bubbles that traps a
large number of organisms.
•The whale then breaches the surface in the
middle of the column with its mouth wide open.
• Right whales swim slowly near the surface and take in
huge quantities of water that contain food. This known
as “skim feeding”.
• Rorqual whales use “skim feeding” but they have throat
grooves that expand when taking in water. They contract
the throat grooves to squeeze the water out.
• Gray whales swim near the bottom and turn sideways to
scoop up sediment that contains bottom dwellers.