Lecture to unlock secrets of the sea

August 27, 2013

Distinguished Sir Walter Murdoch Professor Peter Madsen will deliver a free public lecture titled A Whale of a Meal: How Cetaceans Find and Catch Food.

The presentation will discuss the vastly different sensory and biomechanical methods whales use to find and catch their food.

Professor Madsen said that until recently, little was known about how whales find and catch their prey in the wild.

“Whales are closely related to familiar land mammals such as pigs and camels, but they display a remarkable array of unique secondary adaptations to a life in water,” he said.

“New technologies, including the advent of small, multisensor dataloggers, have revolutionised our capabilities to study these animals in the wild.”

The new devices can be attached to whales with suction cups, allowing researchers to keep track of these majestic creatures from afar.

Professor Madsen will show how one of the slowest predators can catch the fastest animal on the planet. He will also reveal how deep diving sperm whales use the world’s most powerful biosonar system to catch prey at a depth of two kilometres.

The lecture will highlight recent investigations using beaked whales as ‘echosounders’, in a bid to find out how they catch agile and fast prey in the low oxygen zone of the deepest oceans.

The lecture will be held on Monday 2 September from 1.30pm in the Kim E. Beazley Lecture Theatre at South Street campus.

For more information, contact Associate Professor Lars Bejder.

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