Whale communication - does it help them survive?

From: pulipal@netscape.net
Date: Mon Apr 21 2003 - 09:36:23 EDT

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    I'm doing a research paper on the survival of the whale and would like to know if whale communication plays a major role in the the whales' survival .If communication is part of their survival technique how does it help the whale survive? Thanks for your help!
     
    --- Branscomb Larry
    --- branscomblalpha@mindspring.com
    *************************
    This is almost a circular question, in that, you seem to know the answer already. For an animal to have an ability, there must certainly be a purpose behind it. Animals have a variety of ways in which they can communicate with one another. In the case of whales, both touch and sound are important communication channels, as well as vision in clearer waters. Think about the ways communication is important to humans, and you will see that whales require communication in much the same way, as social animals. Since you didn't specify which type or groupings of whales, I'll use dolphins as an example, since that it my area of expertise. Dolphins need to be able to communicate with one another to locate one another, to 'pow-wow' about concentrations of food or even predators, and for the maintenance of social bonds between one another, particularly since they need to work together to care for youngsters, look for food, avoid predators, perhaps 'discuss' how to avoid boats, etc. The Encylopedia of Marine Mammals whi
    ch was published in 2002 by Academic Press has a great article on this topic, as do many marine mammal books. I also recommend that you look thru the WhaleNet archives and the links established at the WhaleNet website. One additional note, you can imagine that if vocal communication is important for whales and dolphins, the loud sounds produced by humans via boats, seismic surveys, etc. have the potential to greatly affect these animals. Since I don't know what your research paper is for (a class?), I hope this information at least sets you on the right pathway for finding more information and thinking more about this topic.

    Sincerely,

    Dagmar Fertl

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