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No. 70: Jul-Aug 1990

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Killer Whale Dialects

J. Ford is the curator of marine mammals at Vancouver's Public Aquarium. For years, he has been listening to killer whales converse as they hunt along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. About 350 whales in the area are divided into two communities, each of which is subdivided into several pods. Each pod has its own dialect of sounds used in communication. Some of the dia-lects are regional, like Bostonian or Texan; others are more divergent, like English and Japanese. This discovery promotes killer whales to the level of some primates and harbor seals. Usually, Ford says, the sounds made by animals are determined genetically.

(Dayton, Leigh; "Killer Whales Communicate in Distinct 'Dialects,'" New Scientist, p. 35, March 10, 1990.)

Reference. For more on killer whale communication, see BMT8 in our catalog: Biological Anomalies: Mammals I. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #70, JUL-AUG 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss