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Learn to speak Killer Whale

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Humans lack the physical body parts like phonic lips or a melon that some whales use to make their calls, clicks, whistles and other vocalizations, so no human can actually speak whale. But by learning what the different sounds mean, researchers are able to understand what whales are communicating to each other.

If you listen carefully to the recordings below, you will be able to tell the difference between the sounds. Ongoing research continues to translate the meaning of these sounds and when we understand what each sound means, we’ll know what each whale is communicating to the other whales and “speak” their language.

CLICKS, CALLS
& WHISTLES

Both residents and transients use discrete calls, whistles, and clicks. Calls and whistles are used only in social communication, while clicks are predominantly used in echolocation. A clicking killer whale produces high-frequency sounds and uses the echoes of those sounds to form images of the areas around him or her. In much the same way that humans use sonar to investigate the seafloor, the ultra-structure of certain materials, or medical views of the inside of our bodies, whales use echolocation to orient and find food in an environment where lighting conditions are poor. Based on differences in usage of calls, whistles, and clicks, researchers can tell whether the whales are foraging, resting, or socializing.

CLICKS
(Glacier Bay N.P.)

CLICKS
(near Vancouver, B.C.)

CALLS
(Glacier Bay N.P.)

WHISTLES
(Glacier Bay N.P.)

 


-TSF-

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