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Investigation of Nordkapern: Why whales whisper with their offspring


            
              Thursday, October 10, 2019
              
                

            
The Atlantic North Caper can reach up to 20 meters in length and weigh up to 100 tons.
(Photo: imago images / Ardea)

              The singing of whales is a familiar sound. At the same time, the big mammals sometimes strike quietly. With their offspring, they communicate in a whisper – for a good reason.
              In order to protect their young from predators, female right whales in the North Atlantic lower their voices to a whisper. According to a new study, dams of the Atlantic North-American emit significantly weaker signals than young or pregnant whales. They wanted to prevent the little ones from becoming the prey of predators, the researchers wrote in the journal "Biology Letters" of the Royal Society. For their research, the researchers used microphones that attached them to the whales with suction cups. They found that the signals of the dams in the first three months of life of their offspring were heard only up to a hundred meters – instead of usual as far as a kilometer far. In this way, the whales reduced the "danger that predators overhear" , the researchers wrote. At the same time, the communication between mother and child is still possible at this distance. The Atlantic North-American is threatened with extinction, there are now only around 500 specimens. The up to 16-meter-long and about 100-ton adult animals are rarely attacked by orcas, for their young, however, the risk is significantly greater.

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