Whales use 'gestures' to communicate when ocean becomes noisy

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Melbourne, April 14 (ANI): Scientists in Australia have found that whales use 'gesturing' to communicate when the wind whips up the ocean and makes it noisy.

"If you imagine you're at a party and you're trying to talk to someone and they can't hear what you say, you start to gesture a bit. Humpbacks are doing something similar," ABC Science quoted Cetacean ecologist Dr Rebecca Dunlop of the University of Queensland in Brisbane as saying.

Dunlop and colleagues examined how humpback whales off the east coast of Australia respond to the noise generated by wind whipping up the waves, which creates similar low frequencies to whale vocalisations.

They recorded the ocean noise using underwater microphones and then compared this to the behaviour of the whales, as recorded by volunteers on land.

The researchers found the more wind noise, the more time whales spent on the surface, breaching and slapping their fins or tails against the water.

Dunlop says the whales are using these physical methods to communicate as an alternative to vocalising, which they carry out underwater.

Dunlop says the whales can either attract attention through their movements, or through the sound they create with the movements.

The findings have been reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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