Subject: Whale Communication

Kim Marshall (kim@Whale.Org)
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 17:38:25 -0500 (EST)

hello, i am ( you don't know me) studying the way that whales communicate
with each other and how they find their prey , i have been surfing the web
so much i think i might become a whale, and i still haven't found enought
info to make a good presentation that is ten minutes long in front of an
entire class, i need help, i read your web page and i think you are very
interesting, with your article and all , and i wanted to ask you a favor:
will you please be able to send me some information regarding this topic,
or could you at least include some good web sites. i would need this info
by feb 17 1997, if you could make it by then i would appreciate it,


I apologize for not getting this to you by Feb. 17th.  I hope this
information is still useful to you.

Aristotle was aware of the sounds that dolphins made at the surface of the
ocean. Its also been suggested that the sounds of the sirens that whalers
thought they were hearing, were actually dolphins.  Dolphins emit sounds of
1,000-15,000 cycles per second.  Beluga whales emit sounds at 500-10,000
cycles per second.  Commuication between mother bottlenosed dolphins and
their calves is kept through whistles.  WHistles also allow individual
dolphins, killer whales, pilot whales and sperm whales etc. to communicate.
Dolphins produce their noises by shutting their jaws vigorously, when they
are feeding they sound like they are making barking noises.  THey also
produce air in their nasal passages through their blowholes which sounds
like a baloon letting air escape.  In the mating season they produce a
weird whining noise, but their usual sound for echolocating sounds like a
rusty  hinge opening and shutting.  Belugas can make chirping sounds and
smack their lips, pilot whales have also been heard making whining noises.
Dolphins generally use echolocation to find their prey, and use the other
whistle type sounds for communication.  Clicks can last from 10-25 seconds
at .25-.5 khz.  A scream can go to 2 khz.  SOme whales also "sing" like the
humpback whale which can be used to help remember migration paths or to
commincate with each other, especially at mating times.  Humpbacks can also
produce bubbles used to coral fish, which are afraid to cross the bubble
line or as a method of defense.  Humpbacks also scream a high pitched sound
when they are coralling schools of fish.  The famous song of the humpback
has been heard 32 km. from the source, fin whales use low pulses which can
be  heard 160km from me source.  Humpback songs may last from 8-20 minutes
and they can sing all day long for many days.  The song is always changing,
but keeps certain parts from the previous one.  Over a course of about 5-6
years the songs completely different.  Humpbacks also communicate through
displays such as breathing.  Gray and right whales also breach to
communicate, play etc.  Whales may also breach in response to an injury or
when finding food.  Migrating gray whales moan, make bubble type noises.  A
metallic sounding pulsed signal has come from a captive gray whale.  Minke
whales make sounds like pings, clicks and grunt-like, thump-like sounds.
There are 4 acoustic categories, tnal pulses and low frequency moans at 12-
500 hz, -grunt like sounds at 40-200 hz and chirps and cries at 1khz,
clicklike sounds at 3-30 khz.  These have been found in humpback, gray,
blue, minke, and Brydes whales.  Other vocal communication methods are
spinning, back or flipper slapping, and tail slapping may convey a threat
or frustation from the whale.

Thanks and good luck, Kim Marshall