Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Whale ‘Whispers’ Keep Young Safe Near Predators

Female Atlantic right whales lower their voices to a whisper when communicating with their young in order to prevent "eavesdropping" by predators, researchers said Wednesday.

PARIS (AFP) — Female Atlantic right whales lower their voices to a whisper when communicating with their young in order to prevent "eavesdropping" by predators, researchers said Wednesday.

Several species of adult whales rarely get hunted by predators in the wild owing to their size, but preying on their young is common. 

A team of scientists used microphones attached by suction cups to look at the voice patterns of right whales — an endangered species with only around 500 known specimens remaining. 

They found that pairs of mother and calves reduced the number of loud, long-distance calls, compared to juvenile or pregnant whales. 

The maternal pairings also increased the percentage of very quiet sounds they used to communicate.

Whereas a typical right whale call could be heard from roughly a kilometer away, the modified speech would only be audible at a range of 100 meters or so. 

"These lower amplitude signals may minimize the risk of detection while still allowing mother-calf communication," said the authors of the study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Letters.

It would also "minimize the risk of eavesdropping by predators."

Whale hunters such as orcas are thought to rely on sounds issued by their prey to locate them, given that the light is often poor at sea. 

© Agence France-Presse

Categories / Science

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.

Loading...