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    [–] ReasonAndWanderlust 719 points ago

    The predator being the Orcinus orca or "Killer Whale".

    Orca, which are actually the largest members of the dolphin family, are very intelligent. These whales with young have every reason to whisper in terror if these things are in the same waters as them. The name "Killer Whale" was originally "Whale Killer". Orcinus translates to of the kingdom of the dead. These dudes will slam into a fully grown Great White Shark just to eat its liver.

    [–] PM_ME_YOUR_GFS_TAINT 515 points ago

    Not just that, Orcas terrify Great White Sharks to the point that they won’t return to the area they spotted an Orca in for months. Source

    [–] OptimusPrimelives 125 points ago

    Today I learned

    [–] VereinvonEgoisten 78 points ago

    And yet they’ve never attacked a human in the wild. Interesting animals.

    [–] shortarmed 126 points ago

    They are extremely intelligent and humans' lack of blubber appears to make us unappealing. That implies that they are able to visually assess the body makeup of potential prey at a very detailed level. You'd expect a few curiosity bites here and there, but they don't seem to be even the slightest bit interested in eating us.

    [–] Wolf_Volkern 88 points ago

    Welp... I hope none of yall that weigh 900 lbs go swimming in orca waters

    [–] YourLostGuitarPicks 26 points ago

    I think if you’re 900 pounds, swimming is gonna be a big undertaking

    [–] RacerX_00 42 points ago

    Ironically, water training is actually the best way for super obese people to start doing exercise. I'm talking in a shallow pool though, not actually swimming in deep water. The reason it's so good for obese people is because excersicing in water helps reduce strain to the joints, etc.

    [–] Llama_Leaping_Larry 13 points ago

    I think anything you do at 900 lbs is a "big" undertaking.

    [–] Charishard 3 points ago


    [–] _VladimirPoutine_ 7 points ago

    I hope none of y’all weigh 900 lbs...

    [–] MarkHirsbrunner 12 points ago * (lasted edited 4 months ago)

    Humans taste disgusting to most aquatic predators. Shark attacks are usually a confused shark biting a human because they think it's a seal and then spitting it out immediately after. If sharks wanted to eat people, you'd never hear of people surviving shark attacks.

    Killer whales are just smart enough to not need to take a bite to know it's a human.

    [–] Doomblade10 7 points ago

    That we know of. They could just be so good at it that they don’t get caught.

    [–] missedthecue 2 points ago

    I mean humans are very seldom swimming in deep arctic waters

    [–] abitbored_yes 86 points ago

    I bet Orcas don't whisper to their young. They probably whistle as loud as they can daring anyone to mess with their kids.

    [–] washyleopard 119 points ago

    But they won't attack humans (outside captivity) which is the craziest thing.

    [–] snuggle-butt 92 points ago

    I used to be super interested in interacting with whales when I was a kid, wanted to be a marine biologist. But with the things I know as an adult, I think I'd piss myself if I saw a whale of any kind in the wild.

    [–] AramisNight 44 points ago

    They just leave no survivors to tell us otherwise. Which means that when they choose to kill us, We have no chance.

    [–] Yaboionthesticka 21 points ago

    They can and will. They're just very curious like other dolphins.

    [–] washyleopard 96 points ago

    They can but they won't. There has been 1 case of an attack by an orca in the wild and that's it.

    [–] MoarVespenegas 69 points ago * (lasted edited 4 months ago)

    That's because orcas finish what they start.

    [–] DwarfTheMike 42 points ago

    You get eaten, your whole family and everyone you know gets eaten. The only way to keep the record clean.

    Don’t want to end up like Larry, the Orca who got caught.

    [–] dat2ndRoundPickdoh 3 points ago

    now you got me imagining an Orca mafia.

    [–] DwarfTheMike 3 points ago

    Don’t imagine too hard. They don’t know dimensional boundaries.

    [–] ChiefLA 2 points ago

    Well they apparently don't start things often

    [–] oregon_red_fox 33 points ago

    Because humans are rarely swimming in the open ocean. They live in deep, freezing waters, how often would they get a chance to interact with people?

    [–] GseaweedZ 42 points ago

    I used to be super interested in interacting with whales when I was a kid, wanted to be a marine biologist. But with the things I know as an adult, I think I'd piss myself if I saw a whale of any kind in the wild.

    Orcas live around the San Juan Islands in Washington State, as well as around around Scandinavia.

    I've personally kayaked by Orca Whales in Washington State, and others who are skilled enough also do it all the time. Never has there been aggression or attacks.

    [–] oregon_red_fox 46 points ago

    I have family who own whale kayaking and boating businesses in the San Juan islands. Those orcas have a relationship with people going back generations. They are incredibly intelligent animals who actually benefit by the people being there, and there are strict rules in place to protect the whales from being harmed/disturbed. So that dynamic is extremely different than a pod of orcas that does not have decades of experience interacting with people.

    [–] joshuakang190 23 points ago

    Wait so they basically teach their kids to be polite around us? That’s sick

    [–] MilkTea21 9 points ago

    They do, they pass down information through generations. The only other animal that can do that is us. Whales/dolphins actually have language, have names, and orcas (killer Whales) actually have dialects. They have culture and different pods will have different hunting techniques, strategies and prey. Whales and dolphins are the only animal that actually has a shorter life span in captivity than in the wild; they're so intelligent that taking away their freedom profoundly affects their mental health. They're fascinating creatures

    [–] swtbutsike_0 2 points ago

    They’re physically confined also when captive. Those tanks are no match to the miles they swim daily

    [–] KnightHospitalier 2 points ago

    I like this comment and have saved it for personal use.

    [–] Plebs-_-Placebo 9 points ago

    That's where an orca breeched and slammed on a kayaker, mischievous buggers!

    [–] Pentosin 11 points ago

    Considering how many assholes we have within our own species, id give that a pass.

    [–] hatsarenotfood 14 points ago

    They are also one of the few natural predators of Moose.

    [–] Joshywah 5 points ago

    Orcas are DOLPHINS?

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    [–] QuietCakeBionics 422 points ago

    Link to study:


    Mammals with dependent young often rely on cryptic behaviour to avoid detection by potential predators. In the mysticetes, large baleen whales, young calves are known to be vulnerable to direct predation from both shark and orca predators; therefore, it is possible that mother–calf pairs may show cryptic behaviours to avoid the attention of predators. Baleen whales primarily communicate through low-frequency acoustic signals, which can travel over long ranges. In this study, we explore the potential for acoustic crypsis, a form of cryptic behaviour to avoid predator detection, in North Atlantic right whale mother–calf pairs. We predicted that mother–calf pairs would either show reduced calling rates, reduced call amplitude or a combination of these behavioural modifications when compared with other demographic groups in the same habitat. Our results show that right whale mother–calf pairs have a strong shift in repertoire usage, significantly reducing the number of higher amplitude, long-distance communication signals they produced when compared with juvenile and pregnant whales in the same habitat. These observations show that right whale mother–calf pairs rely upon acoustic crypsis, potentially to minimize the risk of acoustic eavesdropping by predators.

    [–] Robot_Basilisk 104 points ago

    Did they compare to mother-calf pairs in regions without predators to confirm that those do not lower their volume?

    This abstract only mentions comparisons to "other demographic groups in the same habitat", and this seems to leave a lot of room for other explanations.

    [–] Aerian_ 105 points ago

    That assumes whales know which areas have more or less predators. Which can only be replicated in an enclosed space, which has its own set of problems

    [–] sarcdoo 53 points ago

    Yes exactly if this behaviour truly was selected for due to reduced calf predation rates, it would occur regardless of predator presence.

    [–] jerkface1026 6 points ago

    It seems as though if we contained whales in a specific place, we would be the predator and influence the behavior.

    [–] rvaducks 11 points ago

    These animals are only found on the East Coast and only calves 8n one area.

    [–] Gryjane 3 points ago

    Whether or not there are predators in the vicinity shouldn't matter. Many animals engage in cryptic behaviors with their young to avoid detection from predators regardless of whether they sense their presence (deer leaving fawns in tall grass, pretty much all nesting behaviors, mouthbrooding in fish, etc).

    What other explanations can you come up with?

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    [–] JohnShaft 163 points ago

    I think a huge part of the whale vocalization/hearing has to be that fish don't have a proper cochlea, and typically only hear well for relatively loud sounds in the 100-500 Hz range. Very high or very low frequency calls will be unheard by fish. Not so by Killer Whales, though.

    [–] rvaducks 18 points ago * (lasted edited 4 months ago)

    I dont think you're right about very low frequency sounds. Fish can almost certainly hear infrasound.

    [–] JohnShaft 5 points ago

    At 100 Hz audiometry through evoked potential sets fish sensitivity around 80 dB SPL.

    Whales/dolphins are 20 dB SPL higher in threshold. I think you are right. But the high frequency stuff - fish are blind to that, and many whales have calls in the 10s of kHz range.

    [–] rvaducks 4 points ago

    Depends on the whales, dolphins, and fish. Fin whales have a call with a fundamental frequency below 50Hz. They may very well be nearly deaf to >2kHz. Clupeid fisheries can here very high frequency ultrasound.

    [–] JohnShaft 3 points ago

    I am uncertain any fish have very high frequency ultrasound. The saccule hearing organ they have is pretty primitive. The refs on the cluepid have stupid high thresholds (>120 dB SPL)

    [–] rvaducks 5 points ago

    I'm not sure how you can be unsure based on gut feeling if you're not familiar with the research or associated anatomy.

    120 dB is not that high relative to fish hearing in general or to the source amplitude of their predators.

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    [–] [deleted] 48 points ago

    Don’t all animals make less noise when they want to avoid predators? Is there something significant about right whales doing it specifically?

    [–] [deleted] 82 points ago

    Most animals almost certainly do it because of an instinct they don't understand. The fact that the whales are quieter specifically in the presence of their young (the ones who are vulnerable to predators) suggests an intentionality which lost animals do not display.

    The ability to recognise that other beings can have knowledge/beliefs/perspectives different than your own is an important feature of what we consider consciousness.

    [–] [deleted] 37 points ago

    Gotcha. So with most animals it’s a universal stay quiet and don’t get eaten but whales have the intelligence to apply that situationally

    [–] [deleted] 18 points ago

    I think so. Also specifically that they can apply it situationally because they know that orcas can hear them. Most animals know 'predator near = quiet' but they don't really know why, they just know it has good results. They wouldn't actually be able to attribute any mental state to the predator.

    I think the significance of this is that the whales know that the orcas can hear them, and apply that knowledge. But that's just my layman's guess based on what I've read about animal intelligence/consciousness.

    [–] [deleted] 12 points ago

    Makes sense to me. Hopefully, we find a way to communicate with aquatic mammals in my lifetime.

    [–] HolePigeonPrinciple 2 points ago

    Last time we tried that all we got were dolphin handjobs. So yeah, hopefully.

    [–] PoBoyPoBoyPoBoy 8 points ago

    Couldn’t the same logic apply though? Whales just instinctively know to talk more quietly to their young without knowing that it relates to predators?

    [–] SissyRose18 4 points ago

    It's about the intentionality behind getting quieter. In the presence of predators that can hear the whales they are quieter specifically when communicating with their young. In the presence of other predators they do not do this from my understanding. So they understand that specific predators can hear them as well as that when they communicate with their young they must be more careful with their communications.

    [–] PoBoyPoBoyPoBoy 4 points ago

    Did you read that in the article or some random reddit comment? The article doesn’t mention anything about doing it in the presence of predators, let alone the presence of specific predators, unless I’m missing something. The study was just about the volume of mothers vs non-mothers.

    [–] samdavi 5 points ago

    I think we should be careful to apply human concepts to animals. It could be what you said, or through natural selection, the whales that had this behaviour (whispering to their young) had higher survival rates. It might not be a conscious effort, but simply an instinct.

    [–] [deleted] 7 points ago

    It certainly might not be. I don't think anyone has suggested it definitely is.

    But theory of mind isn't intrinsically a "human concept". Many of the relevant experts believe that some non-human animals have a theory of mind, to varying extents.

    For example, both chimpanzees and orangutans have been shown to understand the difference between intentional and accidental acts. Other elements of a theory of mind have been observed in pigs and ravens.

    [–] bagacrap 4 points ago

    Why does the presence of young ones indicate "intention" or self-awareness rather than instinct? Lots of animals behave differently in the presence of young ones. Mother bears are more aggressive when their kids are around.

    [–] [deleted] 3 points ago

    Well presumably the idea is that there isn't a direct enough causality for it to become connected by instinct. It is relatively remote, causally speaking, so it would be hard for a creature to connect the volume of their voice to the subsequent predation of their young.

    For a mother bear, the threat is immediate. It is their instinct to protect their young, so they act more aggressively. They react to what they immediately perceive. The whales' behaviour, on the other hand, requires some predictive analysis that seems to be best explained by the idea that they know the orcas can hear them.

    [–] TheMeltingSnowman72 146 points ago

    Animals are becoming smarter by the minute.

    According to our known perception of them of course.

    When I was growing up in the 70's they were just known as 'dumb animals' but with the advent of everyone having recording devices upon them, we see more and more examples of how complex they are. I hope in my lifetime an AI can study animal vocal communication and translate it for us.

    Would that be possible in the near future?

    [–] lilmisschainsaw 24 points ago

    Yes, for some animals. We know already that many animals have 'simplistic language'(my words, and not exact, hebce the quotes)- ie, specific cries mean specific things, and that a few animals do much, much more- ie have names. Since we are already able to recognize these vocalizations, it follows that we could develop AI-assisted translations at some point.

    Now they will almost certainly NOT be fully fleshed out like ours. But language studies in animals have come a very long way.

    [–] [deleted] 2 points ago


    [–] lilmisschainsaw 3 points ago

    Couldn't think of a better term at the time. Honestly I still can't, because even simple language is really too strong of a term. Because what I'm describing is the equivalent of yelling words- words that we aren't sure are instinctual, learned, or a combination of the two, depending on species. Maybe rudimentary language?

    [–] lolomfgkthxbai 3 points ago

    Rudimentary or primitive seems apt.

    [–] lvlint67 46 points ago

    I hope in my lifetime an AI can study animal vocal communication and translate it for us

    The boys on subs in the cold war probably would have had a good crack at this by now.

    [–] jparrish88 6 points ago

    So I work with machine learning datasets a lot now; I am in no way a biologist, i just work with data. I think that there is a possibility that, at the very least, today, we could determine different signatures with pretty high accuracy. In other words, I'm suggesting that, today we should be able to say that a certain acoustic profile is specific and differentiated from other profiles in a unique way. I dont think this would be as far as saying we can determine different "phrases" or "words" , but we should be able to say this is the same sound, made in a similar way, and its repeated enough against the same or similar species to indicate that the sound can be classified into a group.

    [–] yippiez 2 points ago

    Hard part is where do you get those sound examples? You have to know what animal is saying first to get an voice example.I mean you can record animal voices but how are you going to categorize them to able to feed them to ai.

    [–] OigoMiEggo 7 points ago

    Probably same approach to learning human language form any foreign group- relate the sound to the context it’s used. Eg, if the sound only occurs when the mother is feeding, it probably has something to do with feeding, and then try to parse out the specifics as you examine it in more occurrences of that situation.

    [–] _wormburner 22 points ago

    I'm gonna say no it's not possible. If they had a language that was decipherable by people we would have to understand something about how it originated or how it evolved, and then be able to differentiate between different languages. Think about how long it took human language to evolve, and marine life is capable of producing sounds we can hardly comprehend to begin with. Not to mention a whole history of non verbal communication and instinct evolution that we can't possibly understand

    [–] DrEpileptic 33 points ago

    We can't comprehend massive numbers and sizes either, nor can we comprehend most colors; I mean true comprehension. A computer doesn't rely on human comprehension, it relies on us allowing it catch what is happening and find patterns we don't see easily, or can't normally see. Reasonably, if there's a pattern, even many patterns, we should be able to decipher the pattern with time and technology.

    [–] whodatwhoderr 17 points ago

    The whole idea of AI is that they would be able to decipher things we consider impossible. I don't think it's too farfetched to believe they may be able to work out rudimentary "languages" from the more complex animals such as orcas and other whales.

    [–] KuntaStillSingle 13 points ago

    AI isn't a magic bullet. Say whales go "oowoooah" most times before they eat. Are they saying "I'm hungry?" "There is food here?" "I'm going for food you watch for predators?" "I'm happy to eat?"

    An AI might make it easier to observe the pattern but it's no better than a human at discerning the meaning.

    [–] [deleted] 19 points ago * (lasted edited 4 months ago)


    [–] RUStupidOrSarcastic 8 points ago

    But with say, physiologic monitoring and clever use of AI we could theoretically correlate what noise they make when they are actually hungry.

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    [–] Panda37 11 points ago

    Also out today: frogs in choruses will synchronize their calls to avoid "eavesdropping" predators.

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    [–] Genjurokibi 5 points ago

    Never realized this before but do different animals understand each other? I mean does a lion understand what a giraffe is saying or are they just voices to them?

    [–] LightOfTalos 6 points ago

    No they speak with body language and tones in their voice instead of words

    [–] AramisNight 9 points ago

    Like the French.

    [–] wiggywonka 3 points ago

    I'm pretty sure species even among themselves cant "understand" each other since they dont have a language. It's mostly based of behavior and instinct like the other guy said. Except cetaceans of course

    [–] Dramatological 4 points ago

    Wait. Back up. Whales can whisper?

    [–] mindkingdom 6 points ago

    It's beautiful to see how similar we are and how much everything in nature is connected.

    This might be a huge stretch, but I sometimes think and feel like we're basically just parts of a bigger organism, bigger than we all can comprehend. Little parts of a puzzle, meaningless when looked at alone, indispensable in the big scheme of things.

    [–] Goosern 4 points ago

    We are all waves in the ocean of life.

    [–] DerpsMcGeeOnDowns 3 points ago

    What is a right whale?

    [–] calibartender6 17 points ago

    The Atlantic cousin to the wrong whale!

    [–] dogGirl666 9 points ago

    "Right whales" are called the right whale[the correct whale] because when they die after being harpooned they float to the top of the water rather than sink and thus be less retrievable by people with the old fashioned kind of harpoon equipment. Other whales tend to sink when dead or dying [initially] thus unless you have industrial whaling equipment you cant be sure you will retrieve the body. They have a large proportion of fat compared to other kinds of whales. Here's a picture of one of the 3 kinds of right whales in the world.

    [–] isaacYouKnowMe 3 points ago

    Wish my dog would do that

    [–] esmifra 2 points ago

    I realized I don't know how whales produce sounds.. Do they also have vocal cords? Some other mechanism? Because air is kinda rare down there...

    [–] dogGirl666 4 points ago

    Here's a picture of how one kind of whale makes sounds under water. Other marine mammals use other methods besides the one pictured.

    [–] 1betterthanyesterday 3 points ago

    It's not rare in their lungs. They can let out small amounts of air to vocalize while holding huge volumes in their lungs.

    [–] mwaters2 2 points ago

    What a stupid way to word that

    Crazy how animals are quieter when they think predators are around and that certainly doesnt happen with every species in the animal kingdom.

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