Whale Social Structure
Whale Social Behavior
The social structure for whales is one that is very interesting. They are avid communicators. A group of whales that live together is known as a pod. They do almost everything together including hunting and migrating. They size of the pod can vary from only a few whales to about ten. Some species of Baleen Whales have been known to live alone though rather than as part of a pod.
What you and I may think are only noises from the area are really their methods of interacting with each other. The various sounds that they offer are commonly referred to as whale song because if you listen they often sound like lyrics. You will also hear what sounds like rapid clicks that are quite loud. These are also used to communicate with each other. They can be heard from several miles around.
The frequency of the communications can be very different depending on the whales. Some of them are very high pitched and others are very low. You will find that a given pod of whales will communicate with the same type of frequency and that prevents them from overlapping with those of other pods in the area.
Females are very protective of their young. They develop a strong bond with them that is fascinating to observe. This is believed to be the strongest of all the bonds in a whale social structure. The males and females aren’t obligated to each other which is whey the females mate with several males during her mating season.
Both the males and the females in the pod help to take care of the young. Generally it is the birth mother though that has the most to do with her offspring. Should she not be able to produce milk or die, another female of the pod will step into that role to help ensure the young calf is able to get the food and the care it needs for survival.
If you get the chance to observe the whale social structure on your own, take advantage of it. You will quickly have a new appreciation for these mammals and how they interact with each other. Since whales can live a very long life, they develop very deep bonds. They have even been known to show signs of mourning when one of them dies. There is no denying that they are among the most intelligent creatures in our waters.
With advanced technology, more is now known about whale social structure than in the past. We are able to observe how they care for each other and what they follow for guidelines. A pod generally has more females in it and possibly one or two males that help with hunting and other aspects of their needs. They seem to make sure everyone in the pod has access to food when they hunt which is very different from other social structures among mammals.
What we do know from this type of research is that the brains of whales are very similar to those of humans. However, it isn’t easy to get to the core of what is going on within their brains. Experiments have been done that show whales are able to complete complex puzzles and to problem solve. They also strive to help each other in their pod so their instincts aren’t driven for only their own survival but of their entire group.
However, they are also able to identify themselves from others in their group. Experiments with mirrors show that they do have a sense of self which is quite interesting. It is believed it is this sense of self though that allows the whales to have such a unique social structure.