July 20, 2011

If you’ve ever seen pictures of whales, chances are you’ve seen a sperm whaleThese great creatures of the oceans have massive heads (that are typically one-third of the animal’s entire length!) and are known to have the largest brain of any animal on Earth. (That doesn’t mean, however, that they could beat you on a math test. Just because they have larger brains, it doesn’t mean that they are more intelligent than humans (but we’ll talk about that in another post)). 


Like most animals, sperm whales have found a way to communicate with each other. They do so through a series of "clicks" and in fact, these sounds are the loudest sounds produced by any animal. Whales can hear them even when they are miles apart. Recently a bunch of marine biologists (scientists that study animals and other organisms of the ocean) suggested that each sperm whale communicates in a very unique way. Since the communication is so unique, the scientists think that these clicks are a way of identifying each whale - much like the way your name identifies you!


The marine biologists analyzed the sounds and found that there are differences in the timing of these clicks. This is what they think sets one whale apart from the other. It makes sense that the whales should be able to figure out who’s "speaking" without actually seeing them - especially because there are times when the water in the ocean can get quite murky and hard to see through! As exciting as this discovery is, the scientists need to study many more sperm whales to confirm that these creatures each have a unique way of communicating.


Now that you’ve got sperm whales on the brain, I thought I’d leave you with my favorite whale cartoon: The Whale Who Sang at the Met. (It’s   a You-Tube video about a sperm whale who just loves to sing…) Enjoy!


whales jacketWant to know more about whales in general? Check out Seymour Simon’s book here.



Image: NOAA 


Posted by: Liz Nealon

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