Whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean, are known for their gentle and docile nature. But they also have a voice, and they use it when they are hungry, according to a study.
The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, is the first to record and analyze the sounds made by whale sharks in the wild. The researchers used suction-cup tags with cameras and microphones to attach to the heads of 10 whale sharks near Darwin’s Arch in the Galapagos Islands, where the animals gather every year to feed on plankton and small fish.
The tags recorded more than 17 hours of footage and audio, capturing the whale sharks’ movements and behaviors. The researchers found that the whale sharks made two types of sounds: clicks and pulses. The clicks were short and sharp, while the pulses were longer and more complex.
The researchers analyzed the frequency and duration of the sounds, and compared them with the whale sharks’ feeding activity. They found that the whale sharks made more clicks and pulses when they were actively feeding, and less when they were resting or swimming. They also found that the clicks and pulses were louder when the whale sharks were closer to their food source.
The researchers suggest that the whale sharks use these sounds to communicate with each other or to locate their prey. They also speculate that the sounds may help the whale sharks coordinate their feeding behavior, as they often feed in groups.
The study adds to the growing body of evidence that whale sharks are not silent giants, but have a rich acoustic repertoire. The researchers hope that their findings will help raise awareness and appreciation for these majestic animals, and inspire more research and conservation efforts.