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
APR 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
APR 07, 2020
As the Seasons Change, Hornet Colonies Make Tough Decisions
Hornet colonies can be particularly susceptible to the Earth’s seasonal changes. That’s why when the climate ...
MAY 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 12, 2020
It's Not a Choice - Cats Need Meat
While you or I might have the freedom of deciding between a carnivorous diet or going all out vegetarian, not all a ...
MAY 18, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 18, 2020
Sharks Actually Fear Dolphins, and Here's Why
Sharks are often viewed as one of the ocean’s top apex predators, but despite this rather prestigious classificati ...
MAY 28, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAY 28, 2020
Pitcher Plants Inspire Kidney Stone Diagnostic
  Urine contains an abundance of dissolved salts and minerals such as calcium and uric acid. These can form crystal ...
JUN 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
JUN 07, 2020
Cephalopods Observed At Record-Shattering Oceanic Depths
The ocean plays host to a plethora of diverse marine animal species, but the vast majority of those generally reside at ...
JUN 09, 2020
Plants & Animals
JUN 09, 2020
The Awesome Science Behind Chameleons
Most people recognize the humble chameleon as a type of lizard that can change its body colors. But contrary to popular ...
Loading Comments...