Sounds of the ocean: how do whales learn their songs?

The Quagga

Whales learn to talk just like us! OK, maybe not just like us, but they do use words and phrases! New research reveals that humpback whales (Fig.1) learn to communicate in a very similar way to us humans 1.

Whale song is an example of what is called a learned cultural behaviour. It may seem that culture is a unique attribute of human kind, however this is not the case! Culture has been shown to occur right across the animal kingdom, particularly in non-human primates and cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) 2.

Culture can be defined as- behaviour that is shared by a group and that is acquired by learning from others 2. Have you seen the infamous scene from ‘Planet Earth’ where a group of Orca (or killer whales) work together to create waves and wash a seal from a piece of ice? This is a…

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