Fear of Killer Whales Drives Extreme Synchrony in Deep Diving Beaked Whales

TitleFear of Killer Whales Drives Extreme Synchrony in Deep Diving Beaked Whales
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
Authorsde Soto, Natacha Aguilar, Visser Fleur, Tyack Peter L., Alcazar Jesus, Ruxton Graeme, Arranz Patricia, Madsen Peter T., and Johnson Mark
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Pagination13
ISBN Number2045-2322
EndNote Rec Number13022
Abstract

Fear of predation can induce profound changes in the behaviour and physiology of prey species even if predator encounters are infrequent. For echolocating toothed whales, the use of sound to forage exposes them to detection by eavesdropping predators, but while some species exploit social defences or produce cryptic acoustic signals, deep-diving beaked whales, well known for mass-strandings induced by navy sonar, seem enigmatically defenceless against their main predator, killer whales. Here we test the hypothesis that the stereotyped group diving and vocal behaviour of beaked whales has benefits for abatement of predation risk and thus could have been driven by fear of predation over evolutionary time. Biologging data from 14 Blainville’s and 12 Cuvier’s beaked whales show that group members have an extreme synchronicity, overlapping vocal foraging time by 98% despite hunting individually, thereby reducing group temporal availability for acoustic detection by killer whales to