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Nature Notebook – Animal Echolocation

The aerobatic display of a hunting bat is another of the many summer wonders.  Every schoolchild knows that bats hunt by echolocating their prey.

Most people assume that bats are the only animals that echolocate.  However, dolphins, porpoises and other members of the whale family use echolocation to navigate through the oceans.  The naval service studied this phenomenon to develop sonar systems for its ships.

Birds that nest in caves, such as the oilbird of Venezuela and the cave swiftlet of southern India, use echolocation to find their way in the complete darkness of their home.   In Michigan, the tiny shrew relies on echolocation, instead of its poor vision, to move about underground tunnels and assist during the endless search for food.