Finding Their Way by Sound

Finding Their Way by Sound How do bats find insects in the dark? How do dolphins locate and catch speedily swimming fish? Believe it or not, the answer to both these questions is the same. It is a skill that both mammals possess. Both bats and dolphins use echolocation, also known as sonar. When bats and dolphins use echolocation, they send out many high-pitched sounds. Each sound bounces off an object and then comes back as an echo. The time it takes for the mammal to hear each echo tells how far away the object is, and how big it is. For example, a bat can tell when it is flying too near a tree or a wall, or if a small, flying insect is close enough to catch. The dolphin knows if it is swimming close to a shark (which it should avoid) or a smaller fish (which it may want to eat). Even though both mammals use sonar, they send out sounds in different ways. Bat sounds are squeaks; dolphins make clicking noises. Bats use their throats to send out their signals. Dolphins, on the other hand, use their noses. However, the skill of both animals is so great that they can tell distances and sizes of objects with astounding accuracy. Bats, for example, can detect insects no wider than the line of ink a ballpoint pen makes. Dolphins can tell the difference between two fish that are 15 feet away. © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt!™ Passage provided under license from Use and duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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