Intense ultrasonic clicks from echolocating toothed whales do not elicit anti-predator responses or debilitate the squid Loligo pealeii. Academic Article uri icon


  • Toothed whales use intense ultrasonic clicks to echolocate prey and it has been hypothesized that they also acoustically debilitate their prey with these intense sound pulses to facilitate capture. Cephalopods are an important food source for toothed whales, and there has probably been an evolutionary selection pressure on cephalopods to develop a mechanism for detecting and evading sound-emitting toothed whale predators. Ultrasonic detection has evolved in some insects to avoid echolocating bats, and it can be hypothesized that cephalopods might have evolved similar ultrasound detection as an anti-predation measure. We test this hypothesis in the squid Loligo pealeii in a playback experiment using intense echolocation clicks from two squid-eating toothed whale species. Twelve squid were exposed to clicks at two repetition rates (16 and 125 clicks per second) with received sound pressure levels of 199-226 dB re1 microPa (pp) mimicking the sound exposure from an echolocating toothed whale as it approaches and captures prey. We demonstrate that intense ultrasonic clicks do not elicit any detectable anti-predator behaviour in L. pealeii and that clicks with received levels up to 226 dB re1 microPa (pp) do not acoustically debilitate this cephalopod species.

publication date

  • June 22, 2007