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How Do Sperm Whales Locate Their Prey? Whale Wars

posted: 05/15/12

When a sperm whale dives below the surface, it sees by sound rather than sight. It sends out clicks from its massive head.

The clicks originate when air is sucked in through a tight valve near the blowhole. The pulses of air pass through the spermaceti — milky-white, waxy fluid found in the sperm whale's head cavity that acts like an acoustic lens, magnifying the air pulses into clicks.

Sent methodically into the darkness, these clicks allow the sperm whale to echolocate its prey hundreds of meters or up to tens of miles away.

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