Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.
- Researchers profiled in the BBC article studied the way porpoises use echolocation to hunt fish. What is echolocation?
- According to the BBC article, the porpoises studied used two sounds in their echolocation technique. What are the two sounds?
- clicking. When doing a broad search for food, porpoises use an exploratory click to get a general idea of where fish are.
- buzzing. After a fish or school of fish have been “spotted” with the click, porpoises use a high-frequency buzz to elicit a continuous echo from the fish they are pursuing.
- The BBC article says the porpoise echolocation technique is “like a adjusting a flashlight.” How?
- Porpoises can switch from a narrow, penetrating burst of sound to a broad, wide beam of sound. “If you were trying to find your car in a car park, you could use a narrow beam over a long distance and still see a lot,” says one scientist. “But when you’re trying to get your keys into the car, you would switch to a wider beam.”
- Can you think of any other animals that use echolocation to hunt prey?
- Porpoises’ cousins, dolphins and toothed whales, also use echolocation.
- Some birds (oilbirds and switftlets) use a type of echolocation.
- A few terrestrial mammals, shrews and tenrecs (so cute!), use echolocation.
- The world’s most famous echolocators are probably bats! Take a look at our terrific illustration of a bat using echolocation to zero in on a tasty moth.
Nat Geo: Is it a Porpoise or a Dolphin?