A new way of communicating between the whales of the North Atlantic and their young has been discovered by a group of researchers. In contrast to parents, young whales are more vulnerable precisely because of their small size, because a larger number of predators are interested in them. For example, whale youth can be a good lunch for orcas and sharks.
During their observations, which led to a study published in Biology Letters, scientists have found that mothers are able to massively reduce the tone and volume of their voices when I communicate with their children to avoid attracting predators. It’s an almost quiet sound, very short and grunt like. Apart from a certain distance, it is no longer audible other than the “classic” sounds made to communicate with the other adult specimens.
According to Susan Parks, Professor of Biology at the University of Syracuse, who led the study, it is a verse very similar to a human whisper that allows the mother to communicate with the child without substantially attracting human attention, especially to killer whales and sharks that may be lurking.
To hear this particular whisper, researchers used non-invasive markers attached with suction cups to the bodies of mothers of North Atlantic whales.
This is a basic strategy to reduce the death of young whales, as these whales have produced fewer offspring in recent years, also due to the deaths caused by collisions with ships and boats and the fact that they tend to get caught in fishing gear. According to scientists, there are only 420 wild whales in the North Atlantic, a factor for which they are considered threatened with extinction.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Syracuse, Duke University and the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
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