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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  • bobTuesday, August 29, 2017 at 1:09 pm
    so real
    • Alien BroTuesday, August 29, 2017 at 10:50 am
      so kiwaiiiii
      • Thebomb.comWednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm
        Not actually, I was seeing if it worked
        • Thebomb.comWednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:10 pm
          I know right
          • JakeWednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:07 pm
            • Thebomb.comWednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:06 pm
              It's sad how killer whales listen to hunt the calf
              • jblanch1
                jblanch1Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 7:29 am
                I Know Right!?
              • Thebomb.comWednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm
                Also that we can hear it
                • ThebombomWednesday, August 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm
                  That's pretty cool
                  • TINKEL BERRY Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm
                    WOW SO AMAZING my hole class is reading
                    • fagagagMonday, August 21, 2017 at 9:17 am

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