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Sperm Whales Might Have Names

Whale researchers are tentatively suggesting that sperm whales might have names. Certain sounds emitted during their songs may be signatures:

Rendell and his collaborators, including biologists Hal Whitehead, Shane Gero and Tyler Schulz, have for years studied the click sequences, or codas, used by sperm whales to communicate across miles of deep ocean. In a study published last June in Marine Mammal Sciences, they described a sound-analysis technique that linked recorded codas to individual members of a whale family living in the Caribbean.

In that study, they focused on a coda made only by Caribbean sperm whales. It appears to signify group membership.[...]

That individual whales would have means of identifying themselves does, however, make sense. Dolphins have already been shown to have individual, identifying whistles. Like them, sperm whales are highly social animals who maintain complex relationships over long distances, coordinating hunts and cooperating to raise one another’s calves.

Link via reddit | Photo by Flickr user SidPix used under Creative Commons license

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March 14th, 2011

Stranger to the World



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