Subject: Evolution of bubblenets

S. Jones (betej@u.washington.edu)
Wed, 11 Nov 1998 23:45:26 -0800 (PST)

On Mon, 9 Nov 1998, James J Allgood wrote:

> I found your address on the net on whalenet.  I am reasearching the
> evolution of feeding behaviors in humpback whales.  Especially the
> evolution of the use of "bubblenets".  Might it have progressed from shows
> of bubbles to ward away other males?  Any insight on the subject would be
> appreciated.
> Thanks,
> James Allgood
> 
> 
Dear James,

I am not sure scientists know how long humpback whales have been using the
bubblenet technique.  It is unlikely that the need to reproduce came
before the need to forage.  Therefore, the bubblenet technique probably
did not evolve from displays of male/male competition during the breeding
season.  Humpback whales use the bubblenet technique as a form of
cooperative foraging.  The light that reflects off the bubbles scares the
fish and leads them to crowd together, encircled by the bubbles.  One
humpback usually blows the bubbles while one or more whales swim up
through the middle of the column and gulp the encircled prey.  They take
turns until all whales have a chance to eat.

I hope some of this information helps you.  You may try looking up
humpback feeding techniques in the scientific literature for more
information.

Bete