Researchers who listen to whale "songs" (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show) have discovered that each whale has his or her own individual "tag" by which they can be identified. Sometimes they communicate as pods (or social units) or families. On the Daily Galaxy website, Casey Kazan quotes biologist Hal Whitehead as saying, "Whale cultures are in their minds and not in the things that they made. Whale culture has, like human culture, a range of types and styles. These songs evolve, so that at the beginning of the breeding season they're all singing one song and then it's changed a bit by the end. And after a couple of years they're singing a totally different song." When they dive together, sperm whales make patterns of clicks to each other known as "codas." Recent findings suggest that, not only do different codas mean different things, but that whales can also tell which member of their community is speaking based on the sound properties of the codas. Just as we can tell our friends apart by the sounds of their voices and the way they pronounce their words, different sperm whales make the same pattern of clicks, but with different accents.
In the April 19th edition of the New York Times, Nicholas Bakalar reports that Humpback whales not only sing their own songs, they imitate the singing of other whales. Some of their tunes turn into whale hits that are sung by whales all over the Pacific Ocean. But dolphins aren't doing so well. In the Huffington Post, Rocky Kistner reports that the number of dead dolphins and whales in the Gulf may be 50 times higher than has been officially counted. He quotes local resident Chris McCune as saying, "I looked and saw a baby porpoise, a terrible sight to see."
At least 138 dolphins have died in the Gulf this year, nearly half of them premature or newborn calves. The reason for this miscount is not only to cover up the extent of the disaster, it's also because dead baby sea mammals are quickly consumed by other predator fish or sink to the bottom of the ocean. Many of the people who come to this website every day feel like THEY'RE singing "a totally different song" from everyone else, but we're here to tell you that there are lots more of us out there than you may think!