We've recently written about the cruelty against whales by Japanese hunters who separate members of pods so that orcas can be exhibited in aquariums. Now scientists are learning how blue whales "sing" to each other in order to communicate over long distances. This may help organizations that want to stop whaling by countries like Japan, which still hunt these intelligent animals for meat. If they can locate whale pods, they may be able to protect them.
While the specific function of songs and calls produced by whales remains a mystery to a large degree, the sounds are thought to mediate social interactions between the animals. Researchers have discovered that they can use recordings of blue whale songs to determine the animal's population worldwide distribution.
The blue whale saw its numbers dwindle dangerously before a ban on whaling was enacted over 20 years ago. Now Japan is breaking this International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium. In BBC News, Jonathan Head reports that the Japanese are actually trying to INCREASE the consumption of whale meat and are encouraging school children to eat it by frying it in breadcrumbs and making whaleburgers.
But karma may be catching up with them. In the Independent, Kathy Marks reports that "Activists ready to risk their lives could not prevent Japan from harpooning whales in the Antarctic. But a fire that crippled the fleet's factory ship has forced the country to cut short its annual whaling operation for the first time in 20 years? Japan suffered the indignity of a Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza, offering to tow the Nisshin Maru out of the area. It declined the offer."
Art credit: gimp-savvy.com
Researcher William Henry may not know much about whales, but he thinks that one of our earliest languages was the language of the birds.
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