Featured Image Credit: Fredrik Christiansen/Functional Ecology
We all know that scene in Finding Nemo when Dory attempts to “speak whale” when trying to find a way to Sydney. Welp, turns out that whales really are considered to be very social creatures!
They travel in groups called “pods” and use a variety of noises to communicate and socialize with one another. The three main types of sounds made by whales are clicks, whistles and pulsed calls. Clicks are believed to be for navigation and identifying physical surroundings.
Recently, scientists have discovered a series of infant whales quiet grunts and squeaks as actually being whispers to their mothers. The recordings, described in the journal Functional Ecology, are the first ever made with devices that are attached directly to the whale calf.
Whale calves must travel with their mothers for thousands of miles during an annual migration to the food-rich water of the Antarctic. What exactly goes down during that lengthy trek is unknown.
“These early life stages of wild whales are so elusive because they’re an aquatic animal,” says Simone Videsen at Aarhus University in Denmark. “We can’t follow them around all the time to see what they’re doing.”
However, Videsen and a few of her collegues were recently able to track eight baby whales using special sound and movement recorders. Believe it or not, these recorders just suction cup right to the baby’s skin!
Not knowing exactly what it is they would hear, they retrieved the devices and listened to the audio. Come to find out that the noises these baby whales were making were vastly different than the noises made by adult male humpbacks.
Instead, the baby whales noises were quiet and subtle, almost like a whisper. It’s almost like the baby is more quiet so it will not get overheard by possible danger that could be lurking nearby.
These baby whales were “whispering” while they were swimming next to their mothers, rather than while they were nesting or nursing. Which could mean they these intimate little sounds the baby’s make can help mother whales keep track of their young in murky waters.
Whale how adorable is that?!