Understanding the bubble-net feeding behavior of humpback whales
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.