Tony Wu: A Gathering of Giants

Underwater photographer and “whale whisperer” Tony Wu has written a personal account of his encounter with a large breeding aggregation of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) on bioGraphic. He notes that the reason for these large gatherings are still unknown and that despite whaling no longer being a threat to their survival, ship strikes and plastic ingestion still makes the species’s survival uncertain.

In the article, Tony describes the encounter:

Hundreds of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) swam to and fro, their huge bodies elegantly twirling and twisting through the water as they socialized. Bumping, jostling, and rubbing themselves against one another, they were exuberantly tactile, their behavior appeared almost euphoric. I felt like a gatecrasher at a wedding, so obvious was their delight in each other’s company.

As my eyes took in this secret spectacle, my ears were assaulted by a cacophony of excited whale chatter. Creaking and crackling, clicks, buzzes, and pops permeated the water as the whales pinged one another with sound. Pulsating rhythms pregnant with meaning penetrated my body. I “felt” the connection between the congregated cetaceans as powerfully as I heard it.