APR 26, 2017 09:01 PM PDT

Humpback Whale Calves 'Whisper' to Avoid Predation

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 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 15, 2019
Are Domesticated Pigs As Intelligent As Domesticated Dogs?
When it comes to domesticated pets, cats and dogs are perhaps some of the most common. But the number of pigs being taken in as domesticated pets as oppose...
SEP 15, 2019
Earth & The Environment
SEP 15, 2019
Smoke From African Fires Fertilizes the Amazon & Oceans
NASA defines aerosols as tiny, airborne, solid or liquid particles present throughout the atmosphere. Although certain aerosols are detrimental contributio...
SEP 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 15, 2019
Fish With 'Specialist' Diets Face Severe Survival Challenges
Animals can be categorized as having one of two types of diets, including ‘specialists,’ which eat only specific kinds of prey, and ‘gene...
SEP 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 15, 2019
Barn Owls Fly Without Making a Sound
When most birds take flight, their wingbeats cause a ruckus; this is typically a repetitive ‘swooshing’ noise generated by the rushing air that...
SEP 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 15, 2019
These Young Seabirds Must Learn to Fly or be Eaten by Sharks
These young albatrosses must learn the official rules of ‘survival of the fittest.’ Once big enough, they will need to become as adept at flyin...
SEP 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
SEP 15, 2019
Berlin Zoo Welcomes Two Newborn Giant Panda Cub Twins
If you have a deep love for animals, then it can sometimes be difficult to contain yourself when a pair of newborn giant panda twins make the headlines. Wi...
Loading Comments...