Humpback whales use more words than thought

Humpback whale

From Discovery Channel:

Whale Vocab Richer Than Thought

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Nov. 17, 2006 — It may not be language as we know it, but whales have no shortage of ways to make themselves understood.

So broad is their vocal repertoire, in fact, that whales can call to their young, woo potential mates and even express emotions, according to researchers who have identified 622 social sounds in humpback whales.

Their work will be presented at the upcoming joint meetings of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) and the Acoustical Society of Japan in Hawaii.

More on humpback whales: here.

Hear their sounds: here.

8 thoughts on “Humpback whales use more words than thought

    Associated Press Writer

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska Sep 14, 2005 — A humpback whale calf entangled in crab pot gear for days near Juneau apparently got itself loose, a federal fisheries biologist said Wednesday.

    “It is very good news when an animal can free itself,” said Aleria Jensen, a biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    The calf was first spotted Friday where Chatham Strait and Peril Strait come together south of Juneau.

    The calf’s mother wasn’t caught in the fishing gear, but had stayed close to the calf.

    Several people, including experts in how to disentangle whales who just happened to be attending a two-day workshop on marine mammal strandings in nearby Gustavus, set out Wednesday morning to free the calf, Jensen said.

    The group flew over the same area where the whale and her calf were previously seen.

    This time, they saw the fisherman’s buoy but no whales.

    Just to make sure, they circled the area until they spotted the whale and her calf just north of Benjamin Island.

    The sighting was confirmed through photo identification of the mother whales’ tail fluke and dorsal fin.

    The whales were located about three-quarters of a mile from the fishing gear.


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