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.

S. H. Bryngelson and T. Colonius, “Simulation of humpback whale bubble-net feeding models,” under review J. Acoust. Soc. Am. arXiv:1909.11768 (2019)