Magazine article Geographical

Whale Song: Caribbean Sperm Wells Speak with a Distinctive Accent, Research Shows

Magazine article Geographical

Whale Song: Caribbean Sperm Wells Speak with a Distinctive Accent, Research Shows

Article excerpt

A decade-long survey has shown that sperm whales in the Caribbean region communicate with a particular accent that is exclusive to the area.

'There is a specific dialect in the Caribbean which is not produced anywhere else in the world,' says Dr Shane Gero, Research Fellow at Aarhus University, Denmark, who has been studying Caribbean sperm whales for 11 years. By collecting and analysing over 4,000 whale calls in the Caribbean, he has found that all sperm whales produce one particular coda--a pattern of clicks--that identifies the 'speaker' as being from the Caribbean.

According to Gero, the clicks are not easy for the whales to master: 'Young whales take at least two years to make these calls accurately enough. They babble before producing the right calls.'

Just as you don't know everyone who shares your accent personally, whale codas extend beyond acquainted family groups. They learn them despite different pod families rarely or never actually encountering each other. …

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