Sounds of a feeding frenzy

Each autumn night below the surface of the Gulf of Maine, a feeding frenzy takes place. It’s occurred for eons, but until just recently, human observers had little idea what really took went on down in the cold, dark Atlantic waters. Now new research out of Northeastern University brings the scene into focus.

In a study published this month in Nature, lead author Purnima Ratilal and her colleagues describe the voracious habits of eight species of marine mammals, mostly whales, that gather to feast on tremendous shoals of spawning herring on Georges Bank. The animals’ behavior has been mapped for the first time on a large scale thanks to an innovative approach to underwater listening. “We’re the first to simultaneously map vocalizations of so many species,” says Ratilal.

The Boston Globe