Marine Mammal Sci (1997)

DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.1997.tb00088.x


The ability of a finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) to discriminate the material and size of a target by echolocation was investigated. The porpoise was required to choose a standard target of a 15-mm diameter solid steel cylinder from two stimuli, a standard and a comparison target, presented simultaneously. The porpoise could distinguish a standard cylinder from acrylic resin and brass targets, but had difficulties distinguishing it from an aluminum cylinder. In size discrimination, the porpoise could distinguish the standard from 12-, 18-, and 20-mm diameter cylinders, but had difficulties distinguishing it from a 14-mm diameter cylinder. Echo measurements suggest that the porpoise is able to detect: (1) time difference between two echo highlights to within approximately 1 μS, (2) frequency shifts of approximately 7 kHz in a broadband echo having a peak frequency of nearly 140 kHz, (3) time-separation pitch of approximately 30 kHz, and (4) target strength differences of approximately 1 dB.