Animal Communication: Whales vs Elephants
Unlike humans, animals do not have a complex language system, but they do in fact have their own means of communication. Their main purpose is for survival and some may not even be aware they are doing it. The two mammals I chose to compare are whales and elephants and their reasons for communicating and channels of communication. Some reasons for communicating may include procreation, dominance and territorial rights, food, and alarms. Channels of communication can include tactile, chemical, visual, acoustic, and electric. Elephant communication mostly intraspecific while whale communication can be interspecific because dolphins can sometimes understand their signals.
Reasons for communication
When looking for a mate, a male humpback whale proves he is fit by “singing”. This type of communication is called “whale songs” because the sounds they make have melodies similar to human music. “The songs of humpback whales can be between five and 30 minutes long (Bright 1984).” (Kirtley 176). Breaching is also sometimes used to show affection. Besides trying to find a mate, sperm whales use clicking sounds to tell the rest of the whales in the group who they are. Whales also use their body in a number of ways to alarm others. One method is called “spyhopping” where they surface their head above water to keep an eye on their surroundings. This way they can watch out for predators. If they sense danger, they will use another method called “lob-tailing” where they lift their flukes and hit the water hard. The loud noise caused by this warns other whales nearby or may be seen as aggression and ward off the predator. If all else fails, “breaching” is when a whale jumps halfway out of the water. This causes a big disturbance, which can’t be mistaken or passed off.
Channels of communication
Humpback whales communicate either vocally or by surface-generated signals. Recently, they tend to use breaching or pectoral slapping...
Cited: Dunlop, Rebecca, Douglas Cato, and Michael Noad. "Your attention please: increasing ambient noise levels elicit a change in communication behavior in humpback whales." Proceedings of The Royal Society . (2010): n. page. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. .
Garstang, Michael, David Larom, Richard Raspet, and Malan Lindeque. "Atmospheric Controls on Elephant Communication." Journal of Experimental Biology. 198. (1995): 939-951. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. .
Kirtley, Joelle. "Animal Communication." Edit. Schafer, Terrell Introduction to the Study of Language. Fall 2012. Honolulu: 2012. 176. Print.
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