Researchers that have monitored sperm whales for nearly two decades reached the conclusion that the majestic animals communicate in different dialects across their clans.
Moreover young animals learn those dialects from their family members and friends just like humans do.
Mauricio Cantor one of the Canadian researchers involved din the study said that his team monitored sperm whales for more than 18 years in an effort to see whether there was a whale culture in the depths of the ocean.
Mr. Cantor also noted that the animals are very social creatures since they gather in family groups and “chit-chat” in their ‘click’ language for their entire lives. Their base language is made of a string of clicks also known as codas.
The research team observed that the clicks were different from one sperm whale clan to another, but the differences were very similar to the different accents a human language can have.
Scientists acknowledged that they don’t know what whales are talking about, but they do know that the topics of discussion are different.
But sperm whales are not only famous for their impressive communication skills. They also broke the record in several other areas including the deepest dives, and the largest nose and brain among other animals on Earth. They are also equipped with the most accurate sonar in nature, researchers noted.
Scientists also said that they were surprised to find that animals from the same species that lived in the same geographical area had different behaviors such as personalized communication signals.
When sperm whales communicate, humans can just hear a quick succession of clicking sounds very similar to Morse code. The Canadian team said that they encountered more than 20,000 different clicking sounds during their 18-year-long study.
They recorded the sounds with underwater microphones, and they used to data to create a computer model and see whether there was a pattern in the clicks of sperm whales. The computer model showed that young whales tend to speak in “dialects” whenever they try to learn the click language from their family or friends.
Mr. Cantor thinks that sperm whales may be more socially engaged than previously thought and they may even have a “sperm whale” culture that helps them connect.
“That makes them quite similar [to] us. Learning how to communicate can split individuals into cultural groups,”
the researcher added.
Nevertheless, the team acknowledged that whale culture is not as diverse, laden in symbolism, and cumulative as human culture is.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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