APR 26, 2017 9:01 PM PDT

Humpback Whale Calves 'Whisper' to Avoid Predation

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Humpback whales aren’t known for being the quietest animals in the ocean blue, but new research reveals that younglings certainly can be when it comes to survival.

Published in the journal Functional Ecology by researchers based out of both Australia and Denmark, the study illustrates how baby humpback whales, known as calves, actually ‘whisper’ to their moms to avoid predation.

Do humpback whale calves 'whisper' to avoid predators?

Image Credit: Daviderich/Pixabay

While said whispering probably doesn’t sound the way it does when you and I whisper to others, calves communicate much more quietly with their mothers than fully-grown humpback whales do. The latter can be heard from tens of miles away underwater, while calves limit their sound volume so they can only be heard in close proximity; within 330 feet to be exact.

Related: Diver footage shows close-up of a humpback whale breaching

The team came up with the findings after attaching special tracking equipment to eight calves and two of the mothers. One of the features of the tracking equipment was recording audio, and the team consistently noticed that the calves were all speaking to their moms at lower volumes than typical adult humpback whales would when crying aloud; up to 40 dB lower.

By keeping their volume down, calves prevent unwanted listeners from keying in on their existence and location, which prevents them from becoming the prey of nearby predators, such as killer whales, which commonly go after baby humpback whales.

More importantly, the sounds that they emit are much less intense than those of adults too. While an adult’s cry may be deep and constant, the calves opt to make much subtler sounds like squeaks and chirps. Some examples of the sounds are demonstrated in the video below:

Perhaps the things they’re saying are, “Mom, I’m hungry,” or “Mom, where’s dad?” While we don’t know for sure what they’re trying to communicate, it goes without saying that it’s probably a very viable way for the calves to communicate with their moms when they sense danger or when they need food, and to do it without attracting attention.

This is reportedly the first time that such behavior has been documented in such great detail for humpback whales, and as a result, we now see their behavior is more complex than originally thought. Additional research could help us learn more about the communication and how it’s used to signal certain things to the mothers.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 08, 2020
Plants & Animals
At Least 11 Species of Fish That Can Walk Are Identified
SEP 08, 2020
At Least 11 Species of Fish That Can Walk Are Identified
Using an evolutionary map and CT (computed tomography) scans, an international team of researchers has identified eleven ...
SEP 06, 2020
Technology
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
SEP 06, 2020
Can Math Determine The Sex of a Dinosaur?
Can math tell us about the gender differences in dinosaurs? A new study published a novel statistical analysis that esti ...
OCT 11, 2020
Plants & Animals
Fungal Disease Affecting Snakes Is More Widespread Than Thought
OCT 11, 2020
Fungal Disease Affecting Snakes Is More Widespread Than Thought
A team of researchers and personnel on military bases have reported in a project in which they looked for an emerging fu ...
OCT 26, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
When Exposed to Estrogen, Fish Generate Fewer Males
OCT 26, 2020
When Exposed to Estrogen, Fish Generate Fewer Males
Life on earth relies on clean water, something that is becoming more scarce. Researchers have found that if water is con ...
NOV 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
NOV 12, 2020
Noise Pollution Threatens Norway's Orcas
Orca pods heavily depend on vocal communication for survival. Their unique ability to communicate with other pod members ...
NOV 21, 2020
Earth & The Environment
The first ever global bee diversity map
NOV 21, 2020
The first ever global bee diversity map
A study reported in the journal Current Biology showcases the first global map of bee diversity. Designed by a coll ...
Loading Comments...