Washington: A new research has revealed that humpback whales make "tick-tock" noises while hunting together at night in deep, pitch-black water, but are silent when hunting alone.
The research at Syracuse University emphasizes the importance of specific auditory cues that these mammoth creatures emit as they search the deep ocean for their prey.
Researcher Susan Parks, who studies marine science and acoustic communication, said that humpback whales are known to cooperate with others to corral prey near the surface and recent studies suggest they may cooperate with each other, when feeding on bottom prey, as well.
Whales mostly find sand lance, which is eel-like fish known to bury themselves in the sand of the ocean floor, on the menu and Parks suggests that whales' vocal sounds may help flush the sand lance out of hiding to where they're scooped up and eaten.
The clock-like sounds created by whales may also serve as a dinner bell of sorts for other nearby whales during late-night feedings.
Parks added that hints of behavior suggest that other whales who overhear the sounds are attracted to them and may eavesdrop on other whales hunting for food.
Her findings are the subject of an article in the December issue of Scientific Reports.