Write your abstract here.Australian Scientists Begin to Crack Whale Code.
are known to be among the most clever and intelligent of all mammals.
They have brains that are roughly the same size as humans or larger,
which are similarly or superiorly complex (although differently evolved
in structure). This has led some marine biologists to speculate that
whales, and other Cetaceans, could be as intelligent as humans, and may
even have several unknown communicative abilities, that surpass our
current understanding through sonar and other means.
Critics say that if cetaceans were as smart as us there’d be more
evidence of it. But what type of evidence would suffice? The fact that
Cetaceans are suffering from (rather than creating) the kind of
environmental suicide that humans indulge in, is not necessarily proof
It is known that the prehistoric predecessors of Cetaceans were land
animals who returned to the sea where there was relatively little fear
of large predators and an abundant food supply. Dolphins and whales
appear to have rich communicative powers among themselves and are very
playful. It is also known that dolphins can use tools and teach their
children how to use tools. Dolphins are one of the few animals other
than humans known to mate for pleasure rather than strictly for
reproduction. They form strong bonds with each other, which leads them
to stay with their injured and sick. Dolphins also display protective
behavior towards humans, by keeping them safe from sharks, for example.
Now Australian scientists studying humpback whales sounds say they have
begun to decode the whale''s mysterious communication system. They say
they’ve already identified male “pick-up lines” as well as motherly
Scientists from the University of Queensland working on the Humpback
Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC) project are trying to
break the mysterious communication systems of whales. Whalesong is said
to be audible to other whales halfway across the planet. But what do
all their melodic squeaks, moans, grumbles and singing mean? The
scientists have begun recording some of the whales’ extensive
repertoire in an effort to answer that very question.
Recording whale sounds over a three-year period, scientists discovered
at least 34 different types of whale calls, with data published in the
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
"I was expecting to find maybe 10 different social vocalizations, but
in actual fact found 34. It''s just such a wide, varied repertoire,"
University of Queensland researcher Rebecca Dunlop told Reuters.
The researchers studied migrating east humpback whales, as they
traveled up and down Australia''s east coast, and recorded 660 sounds
from 61 different groups. Dunlop says that some of the sounds recorded
could have multiple meanings depending on how they are grouped, for
example, but some sounds appeared to have one clear meaning, such as
the “purr” sound from males ready to try their luck with an available
female. High frequency “screams” were associated with disagreements. A
“wop” sound was common when mothers were together with their young.
"The wop was probably one of the most common sounds I heard, probably signifying a mum calf contact call," said Dunlop.
Perhaps something like, “Junior, Junior! Get over here now!”
Dunlop says there are clear similarities with human interaction.
"Its quite fascinating that they''re obviously marine mammals, they''ve
been separated from terrestrial mammals for a long, long, long time,
but yet still seem to be following the same basic communication
system," she said.
The scientists are hoping that further research on the subject will
reveal more of their mysterious “language” and what effects boats and
man-induced sonar are having on migrating whales.