Scientists track sperm whales based on dialects

Sperm whale

When the subjects of scientist Hal Whitehead’s research expeditions, sperm whales, returned to the Galapagos Islands after a 10-year absence he quickly assembled a new team to study the old whales. However, once the team began listening to the whale vocalizations, they discovered these were not the old whales they’d previously studied. They discovered this through the whales’ dialects.

The whale pods Whitehead had studied off the Galapagos Islands until the year 2000 eventually were tracked to the coast of Northern Chile and the Gulf of California. They had simply moved, but the scientists have only hypothesized why at this point. But, the new sperm whale population off the Galapagos are two entirely new pods. This was determined definitively due to the dialect of their vocalizations.

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