Good question - and one that has been around almost as
long as there have been people and whales.
I'm not exaggerating all that much here -
archaeologists have found ancient greek coins with a
picture of a boy on a dolphin that represented a
popular story of the day about how dolphins saved a
boy from drowning. Makes you think they wondered
about how the dolphins knew that the boy needed help -
or how the boy communicated what he needed to the
Yes there are many stories about dolphins and whales
approaching boats and people. Curiosity probably is
part of it. Whale watchers in this area (Cape Cod)
have often commented on how some whales that are known
individuals seem to be particularly curious and
approach boats more than others (usually young
whales). Some folks think they approach certain boats
more than others, but I'm not sure how much of that is
exaggeration by the people running the boats.
So a whale may be curious, or it may be a case of
mistaken identity, as when a whale might mistake the
hull of a boat for the side of another whale. There
are reports that some small sail boats have been
struck by sperm whales at sea, that mistake them for
other whales. Unfortunately, this is something the
whales know, but we do not.
It is not all that unusual for animals to communicate
with humans on a regular basis however. One reason
people and dogs get along as well as they do, is that
they tend to be aware of each others body language and
can understand each other pretty well.
For example, if you speak in a high squeaky voice to a
dog it means (to the dog) you are excited and happy.
I don't know about you , but if I'm in a bad mood I'm
generally not speaking in a high squeaky voice. So
when I'm happy and acting like a goof - my dog gets
happy and acts like a goof. That is also why dogs
tend to like (well at least get excited around) people
with high voices (kids and women).
Whales and dolphins do not use sounds in quite the
same way so I would think it unlikely that a large
whale would have the same sort of general reaction to
people's voices. We know little of the "body
language" of most whales, but what we do know makes
people think that it is pretty different.
We can still get a point across to some marine
mammals, but it generally requires some work on both
parts (watch a sea lion show to see more about how
good luck with your report,
--- Holly Jamieson
> My name is Holly and I'm doing a project on whale,
> although not just
> whales...how whales communicate with humans and vise
> I have heard many stories about whales going to
> close to boats as a
> matter of curiosity, for example Luna the separated
> whale who has gotten
> so used to humans they wonder if she will remember
> her pod. Why is it
> exactly that whales do this? Is it just a matter of
> curiosity? I have
> heard that whales are attracted by the sound of kids
> voices and women's
> voices, likewise why is this?
> Thank you for answering my questions:-)
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