Thursday, September 08, 2005

Humpback Whales and Communicating

With the discussions on how there was a breakdown in communications, we could learn from Humpback Whales.

A favorite of whale watchers, Humpback Whale is the most acrobatic of all Baleen Whales. A favorite activity of his is pec-waving, in which He twirls his body back and forth, waving his flippers. One of the most prodigious breachers, Humpback Whale leaps hundreds of times out of the water. Most noticeable of his actions is pec-slapping, where He slaps his long flippers against the water with a resounding crack that can be heard considerable distances. If a whale-watching boat disturbs him, Humpback Whale will lobtail to show his annoyance.

When He finally arrives at his tropical breeding grounds; Humpback Whale sings one of his famous songs to attract Female Humpback Whales. (These songs have two to nine separate themes in a specific order.) Besides spooking whalers, his haunting sounds have been sent into space on the Voyager probes. Also, in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”, two Humpback Whales sang their songs to stop aliens from destroying the Earth.

Unlike other Baleen Whales, Humpback Whale hunts in groups. He engages in an unusual form of cooperative hunting called “bubble netting”. (Several Whales produce a continuous spiral of exhaled air making a single, large bubble net.) First, a Humpback Whale will tail slap to startle the Fish. Then each Whale slowly rises below a school of prey, expelling a circle of bubbles. These bubbles form a “net” similar to fishing net. The Fish panic and converge in a small group. Then Humpback Whale swims through the group with his mouth open wide, gulping down Fish.

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