Animal Stories

Whales can adjust their hearing

by Rebecca on May 17, 2012

in Animal Stories

By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC Nature

See Kina the false killer whale hunting for fish using her echolocation “buzz”

For many whales and dolphins, the world is shaped by sound; they hunt and navigate by listening for echoes. Navigating in this way requires super-sensitive hearing. And scientists have now found that, for some whales, this sense is adjustable. Researchers in Hawaii measured the hearing of a female false killer whale, and found that she could fine-tune her most crucial sense.

Kina the false killer whale (c) Paul Nachtigall/ University of Hawaii
Sensors attached to suction cups on Kina’s body took measurements of her brain activity.
The whale would “turn down” her hearing when she anticipated a loud noise.

Bears, snow

Snow much fun: The bears  are snapped enjoying the snow (Picture: Duncan Usher/Solent News)
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It seems even bears enjoy a snow day, as the pair of bears frolicked in the  snow acting like excitable children, taking turns to slide to the bottom of the  frozen slope.

Their incredible 20-minute display was captured by British photographer  Duncan Usher who travelled to a German wildlife park to capture some action  shots, but ended up with a little more than he bargained for.

He said: ‘I decided to travel to the park in the hope of getting some action  shots of animals in a snowy environment.

Snow, bears
Sleddy bears master the  technique (Picture: Duncan Usher/Solent News)

‘The two bears were frolicking in the fresh snow, just like children, and  they repeatedly slid down a short slope, grunting and puffing with delight and  obviously enjoying the early spring sunshine.

‘They attracted a very large crowd of park visitors, who were exclaiming and  crying with laughter at the bears’ antics.’

The five-year-old animals even lifted up their back paws to make themselves  go faster before ending their run in somersaults at the wildlife park in  Bavaria, Germany.

Mr Usher from Allendale, Northumberland said he has never experienced  anything like it in 25 years of animal photography.

‘The bears kept up the entertainment for about 20 minutes and ended up  play-fighting and rolling around in the snow together,’ he continued.

‘They were very entertaining and in 25 years of animal photography I have  never experienced brown bears playing so enthusiastically, or so  intensively.’

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