These “nets” are 100% biodegradable AND you won’t have to see any depressing pictures of trapped dolphins and sea turtles! I thought this was a cool bit of marine animal behavior. Humpback whales can produce “bubble nets” to corral fish and plankton into a condensed space, thereby providing the whales with the maximum number of prey clustered together and more efficient feeding. In the article, the writers claimed this discovery was tantamount to apes using tools in the forest!
I liked that the whales can work together as pairs, and that science has a high-tech invention that can obtain all this data. I think getting 3D orientation images from underwater is very exciting. I would think inventing water and pressure proof suction cup tags that can withstand sustained quick speeds and rapid movements for extended periods of time would be rather difficult. I don’t know that much about technology or what experimental devices are available today for marine research, but my experience with technology and marine life has not been as promising as this whale study. I followed one of my rehab dolphin’s movements via internet and her satellite tracker before, and it all seemed pretty iffy to me. We could only get her location if she came to the surface, and the tracker had an error radius of 100 meters or something. Sometimes the device said she had re-stranded, but we never found her on the beach again. None of the data obtained was very precise, but it gave a good general idea of where she was until it stopped working a few weeks after her release. Consequently, I thought a suction cup tag that could withstand ocean currents on the back of a humpback whale and give the whale’s orientation while underwater was super impressive. If you watched the TedTalks video I posted on bioluminescence (or do anything in science really) you probably know funding can be difficult to come by. I’m glad these researchers got such cool equipment and were able to provide us with neat info on bubble nets!