You can usually work out where someone is from as soon as they speak, and everyone has a vague idea of what specific regional accents sound like. As it is with people, so it is with whales. A new study has confirmed that Caribbean whales sound very different from whales found elsewhere. More relaxed, I’m guessing. Dr. Shane Gero recorded and analyzed the clicking noises — or codas — between pods of female sperm whales and their offspring in the Caribbean Sea off the island of Dominica. The whales have several different calls, but two of them are used far more frequently than the rest, and are not present in any other whale population on Earth. The scientists concluded that these calls, which “dominated repertoires in this population for at least 30 years,” are culturally transmitted across generations.
Not only are the whales highly intelligent with a sophisticated communication system, their ‘regional accent’ for want of a better term is actually developed as they grow older. The scientists’ findings “also showed that juveniles and calves produced a wider variety of coda types, which supports the theory that a standardized coda is something they learn over time,” reports New York Magazine. Now that scientists are able to distinguish the various codas, the obvious question is: would whales from elsewhere also hear a difference? And would they be baffled by it?