Whiskers of harbor seals detect prey with spectral sensitivity tuned to the frequency range of fish-generated water movement.


"Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) can use their whiskers to detect minute water movements. The high sensitivity of this sensory system should allow a seal to gain hydrodynamic information resulting from movements of other aquatic animals, such as prey, predators or conspecifics. Our results show that the whiskers of harbour seals form a hydrodynamic receptor system with a spectral sensitivity that is well tuned to the frequency range of fish-generated water movements." (Dehnhardt et al. 1998:235-236)

"Water movements in the wake of fishes persist for several minutes. Here we show that blindfolded seals can use their whiskers to detect and accurately follow hydrodynamic trails generated by a miniature submarine. This shows that hydrodynamic information can be used for long-distance prey location." (Dehnhardt et al. 2001:102)

Journal article
Decision-makers’ attitudes towards economic valuation – a case study of German water management authoritiesJournal of Environmental Economics and PolicyDecember 2, 2013
Alexandra Dehnhardt

Journal article
Hydrodynamic Trail-Following in Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina)ScienceOctober 25, 2016
G. Dehnhardt

Journal article
Seal whiskers detect water movementsDehnhardt, G; Mauck, B; Bleckmann, H

Spotted SealPhoca vitulinaSpecies