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18.10.2018 – The Clan Coda – Code

18.10.2018 – The Clan Coda – Code

In recent days, we have written in our blogs often about sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) and for a good reason, because these large toothed whales are just here, around Madeira. Of course, this is a real experience for our guests every time. Today this was paired with a somewhat adventurous cruise to the marine mammals, but what matters is that all (spotter: Carlos; Captain Senhor Luis and all the guests) gave their very best and we were able to observe these wondrous animals.

We humans know that in which country one lives, the different areas have their own dialect. But how does that work in the ocean? It is indeed surprising that there are also distinct dialects and regional language varieties in the sea. Whether Atlantic or Pacific, also here different dialects can be observed with Sperm whales. Research suggests that the Pacific Sperm whales do not seem to care about the dialect when it comes to mating. In the Atlantic, on the other hand, differences in geography alone make interaction between different groups of Sperm whales much less common.

A Sperm whale clan is composed of different communities, which in turn consist of family associations. Each clan develops itsown language, has its own dialect. This is not inherited but learned. This social and cognitive ability is handed down from generation to generation and strengthens their social identity. By means of these dialects, Sperm whales can identify their membership in certain clans.
During the diving process the Sperm whale sends constantly monotonous clicking noises, which serve the location of its prey. But for communication, he uses CODAS that are much more complex in their construction. A coda consists of 3-10 rhythmic clicks, which in turn are subdivided into a series of sound pulses. The clans thus have a CLAN CODA CODE! 😉

And who wants to hear into the acoustic world of the Physeter macrocephalus in on the interesting side of Andrea Steffens find: https://www.pottwale.de/pottwale/lebensweise-und-lebensraum

Interestingly, Sperm whale clans also differ in the way they roam their habitat. Social identity and communication seems to play an important role in these highly developed toothed whales.

By Fatima Kutzschbach

Sightings of the day

Ribeira Brava

10:00 Sperm whales


10:00 Cuvier’s Beaked whale, Sperm whales

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