Learning from whales: Bubble-net feeding

Bubble-net feeding is the sophisticated hunting behavior of some humpback whales. They release air from their blowholes while spiraling downwards, creating a bubbly wall surrounding their prey. Next, they vocalize from the exterior (~188dB), effectively trapping the small fish inside a “wall-of-sound”. Finally, they swim up and through the interior, feeding on the trapped fish. While fascinating, the acoustic mechanisms that enable this behavior are only poorly understood. We utilized an ensemble-averaged bubbly flow model to faithfully simulate the relevant acoustic phenomena, leading to an advanced interpretation of this behavior.

  1. S. H. Bryngelson and T. Colonius, "Simulation of humpback whale bubble-net feeding models," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 147, 1126–1135 (2020)
  2. S. H. Bryngelson and T. Colonius, "Annular and spiral bubble nets: A simulation-focused analysis of humpback whale feeding strategies," Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 146 4, 2771 (2019)