Humpback Calves "Whisper" To Their Moms To Avoid Predators

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A mother and calf humpback whale swim in the Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia. Photo Credit:
Fredrik Christiansen/Functional Ecology

Every winter, hundreds of humpback whales migrate long distances from their high latitude feeding grounds in the Arctic and Antarctic to warmer tropical regions to breed and give birth. The newborn calves, which consume over 52 gallons of milk on a daily basis, have only a few months to pack on the body fat needed to survive the long trek back to cooler waters in summer. How the babies signal hunger and avoid predators during these formative months has always been a mystery to scientists.

“We know next to nothing about the early life stages of whales in the wild, but they are crucial for the calves’ survival during the long migration to their feeding grounds,” says study lead author Simone Videsen of the University of Aarhus, Denmark. "These early life stages of wild whales are so elusive because they're an aquatic animal. We can't follow them around all the time to see what they're doing."

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Reading Comprehension (8 questions)

  1. What do humpback whales do every winter?
  2. How much milk do newborn calves consume every day?

Critical Thinking Challenge

After reading the article, would you say humpback whales are good...


Vocabulary in Context

The moms acknowledge the requests by responding with quiet calls. This is very different from the normally loud and eerie adult whale songs which reverberate across...

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  • mmeeppThursday, October 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm
    i love whales , GO NATURE
    • penz
      penzWednesday, October 4, 2017 at 6:14 pm
      That is sooo sweet and cool
      • kathrineFriday, September 22, 2017 at 11:16 am
        i want to be a marine scientist. i am in seventh grade
        • BumcrackMonday, September 11, 2017 at 4:33 pm
          • Bumcrack Monday, September 11, 2017 at 4:33 pm
            • HormWednesday, September 6, 2017 at 2:01 pm
              • tierra.bradleyWednesday, September 6, 2017 at 5:09 am
                • tierra.bradleyWednesday, September 6, 2017 at 5:08 am
                  I like it
                  • bleblubTuesday, September 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm
                    soooo adorable
                    • makaylaFriday, September 1, 2017 at 11:38 am
                      so cute

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