The researchers hypothesize that the whiskers, which are also known as vibrissae, normally vibrate in a certain way, and that when a fish trail is encountered the change in the vibration alerts the seal to the presence of prey.
The experiments were conducted in laboratory conditions; the next step will be to follow seals in the ocean, says Dehnhardt.
"Our results not only provide for the first time an explanation on how animals that did not possess a sonar system like dolphins can orientate in the dark and find prey, but also give us a new view on aquatic environments," says Dehnhardt. "The study once more shows us that there is more under water than humans can imagine and perceive with their sensory systems."
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