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Are right whales ‘whispering’ to avoid predators?

North Atlantic right whale fluke

A new study published in the journal Biology Letters, has revealed that North Atlantic right whales alter their calls to their young in order to protect them from predators.

Normally right whales use a rising call or ‘whoop’ sound to communicate with each other but, according to the latest research, right whale mothers will ‘whisper’ to their babies in a much shorter and lower tone that can only be heard in the immediate vicinity.

This type of communication seemed to take place only between mothers and their young, and not among juvenile or pregnant whales. It is thought that by communicating over shorter distances like this might be a way of not attracting the attention of predators like orcas who might be present in the area.

A similar behaviour has been noted in other species of whale, including the southern right whale and humpback whale.

Once abundant in the eastern and western North Atlantic, only around 400 North Atlantic right whales survive along the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada.



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