April 16, 2024

This may even curiosity you

[EN VIDÉO] Within the video: The start of a small beluga whale on the Georgia Aquarium The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta celebrated a cheerful occasion just a few weeks in the past…

We’re north of the Pacific Ocean. To the east, to our proper, the frozen plains of Alaska. To the west lie the Siberian lands. Very shut, additional north, the Arctic Circle and its pack ice areas so far as the attention can see. Right here the Bering Strait separates two giants, America and Eurasia. It’s summer season, the gentle temperatures herald the retreat of the ice. However for now, white and silence dominate. The ocean is so calm that nobody might have guessed what would occur at the moment. We have now an appointment with a phenomenon that solely happens annually. A unprecedented phenomenon. However to see it, you must go to the opposite aspect, behind the grey mirror of the water. In these seemingly inhospitable chilly waters, hundreds of species dwell within the rhythm of the seasons. They’re there. We hear them earlier than we see them. The ocean will not be nonetheless. By calming your breath and letting the water lull you, you may hear the life round us.

Uncover the Bêtes de Science podcast on the origin of this transcription. Click on the play button and get carried away or click on right here to subscribe to your favourite utility. © Futura

Its white silhouette displays the sunshine of the solar. They swim slowly, whirl round, brush in opposition to one another. You’ll have acknowledged them by their look as massive dolphins dressed all in white: they’re belugas. Whereas a primary group comes in direction of us, one other, somewhat additional away, emerges from the depths of the ocean. All of the sudden we’re surrounded by 100 white whales. The little ones are simple to acknowledge: they nonetheless have grey pores and skin. They’re the infants of the group. Seems like they’ve organized to satisfy. And it’s an appointment that isn’t as a consequence of probability… however we’ll come again to that later. As a result of the spectacle is breathtaking. Throughout us, these sea giants, as much as 5 meters lengthy and weighing greater than 1,000 kilograms, float gracefully and weightlessly within the chilly waters of the Arctic. At start, infants already weigh 80 kilos, the load of an grownup!

Belugas from Nunavut seen by Florian Ledoux

The beluga, just like the whale or dolphin, is a marine mammal and belongs to the cetacean household. It lives within the northern waters of our planet. Its scientific identify, Delphinapterus leucas, means “wingless dolphin” in historical Greek. As a result of in contrast to frequent dolphins or sharks, its ice-white silhouette has no fins. As an alternative, it’s topped by a skinny crest that runs alongside its again. Its beak, break up into a large smile, reveals sharp tooth which might be very helpful for chopping up the fish and crustaceans it eats. There are small eyes on either side of its head, giving the beluga a big sight view. Like all marine mammals, our whale involves the floor to breathe because of its blowhole, that small gap on the prime of its cranium. And its vent can be used for making bubbles!

The “canary of the seas” lives in a sound universe

The beluga’s actual trump card is neither its sight view nor its sharp tooth. No, its greatest benefit is its sonar. Like its cousin, the dolphin – which supplies first names to its mates, bear in mind, we talked about this in a earlier episode – the beluga, just like the dolphin, is subsequently able to making sound recordings of its environment. To search out its approach within the water, at depths the place daylight is uncommon, it emits sounds by vibrating membranes in its nostril which might be kind of similar to our vocal cords. These sounds are amplified by an organ known as the cantaloupe, that giant bump on the beluga’s brow that makes it recognizable amongst hundreds and (we’re not going to lie) makes it look somewhat bizarre.

The sounds that the beluga emits, amplified by its melon, journey via the water, after which they collide with what they encounter: the ice floe, a ship, a fish. After they encounter an impediment, the sounds are mirrored again to the beluga and vibrate via its jaw to its internal ear, telling it that there’s something there in that course. The beluga’s mind then creates a sort of map, a snapshot of its environment. Fairly a superpower, proper?

“The beluga communicates with its conspecifics by hissing, clicking, squeaking and grunting.”

The beluga is completely tailored to life within the sound realm of the ocean. And as you’ve most likely observed, it’s an actual talker! It communicates with its friends by making hissing, clicking, squeaking and grunting noises. It’s even nicknamed the “Sea Canary” due to its incessant cackling! Their singing repertoire is so numerous that it takes a number of years for child belugas to have the ability to specific themselves completely. As a result of communication is important for these animals, which dwell in teams and keep deep bonds with different animals. Belugas are social animals. Take a look at them, they traveled collectively and hardly strayed from one another! They are going to spend the summer season right here. As a result of, like yearly, on the similar time the whales migrate from their winter territories somewhat additional north in direction of coastal waters, the place they splash round all summer season lengthy. They make their approach via the ice floe for a number of months, generally overlaying hundreds of kilometers. This phenomenon is known as “summer season migration.” From yr to yr they take the identical route, observe the identical underwater route and discover the identical bay. In all places, from north to south of the Bering Strait, hundreds of belugas are doing the identical factor.

However why are they assembly right here? How do they handle to seek out themselves in the identical place yr after yr? As you may think about, this extraordinary habits shortly piqued the curiosity of scientists, and you will notice that they made a shocking discovery in regards to the beluga’s extraordinary intelligence.

A migration tradition that’s handed on from technology to technology

A workforce of researchers from all over the world spent 30 years monitoring the actions of greater than 1,600 belugas dwelling within the Arctic waters of Siberia and Alaska. They mixed the analysis of their predecessors and adopted the belugas to acquire important data: their DNADNA. DNA is the knowledge contained in each cell in our physique. This data is a sort of organic code that’s particular and utterly distinctive to every particular person and determines, for instance, the colour of our eyes, our hair, but in addition sure points of our character. Our DNA is a bit like our organic ID card, extra particularly genetic. All dwelling issues have one. And that is subsequently essential data for researchers! This permits them to seek out out whether or not the belugas they examine belong to the identical household: are they cousins, brothers and sisters, mother and father or youngsters?

By evaluating these genetic identification maps with the ocean routes that belugas observe throughout their migrations, researchers made a unprecedented discovery. They realized that the belugas that got here collectively belonged to the identical household and all migrated to their hometown. In fact, many animals migrate: fish, birds and even turtles… However what makes beluga migration so extraordinary is that they don’t use chemical or magnetic indicators. To search out their approach: You possibly can be taught migration with belugas.

Grandmother Orca ensures the survival of her grandchildren

In reality, beluga moms move on their information of ocean routes to their younger. They train them to navigate the vastness of the Arctic waters and discover their approach again to their birthplace. When information is handed on socially on this approach, it’s known as tradition. Belugas should not merely migratory animals; they’ve a migratory tradition. And that modifications all the things! Researchers imagine these migrations enable them to adapt to seasonal modifications, similar to discovering meals. That is proof of unusual social intelligence and complicated cognitive talents. One other approach of claiming they’re actually good.

Narwhal adoptions and imitation of human voices

And the extraordinary talents of belugas don’t cease there! Keep in mind these bubbles they blew earlier? Effectively, scientists have found that they produce them alone or in teams with none actual profit, merely… for enjoyable. These little jokes even have an enormous coronary heart: teams of belugas have adopted narwhals a number of instances. Narwhals are additionally known as sea unicorns due to their lengthy, needle-shaped tusks, which may be as much as 3 meters lengthy! They’re cousins ​​of belugas however should not of the identical species, which makes their understanding, though uncommon, distinctive.

And you will have heard of Noc, a beluga who rose to fame because of a tremendous skill. Noc was a captive beluga whale that lived in a pond in San Diego, USA. Sadly, he was one of many belugas that have been taken from their pure surroundings, however at the moment issues are altering and an increasing number of voices are being raised in opposition to one of these follow. Throughout these lengthy years Noc spent within the pool, he interacted with belugas, dolphins and folks.

Noc, the beluga who talks to folks

And in the future, because the scientists have been going about their enterprise close to Noc Pond, they heard unusual noises. Noises that sounded suspiciously like human dialog. After they realized that it was Noc himself who had created them, everybody was shocked. We don’t truly distinguish phrases in Noc’s speech, it’s extra of a type of mumbled dialog. However for the beluga it’s a actual masterpiece, as a result of it makes an effort to supply a lot deeper sounds than normal by tensing the muscle mass of its nostrils otherwise. Noc had discovered a pastime: imitating the best way folks spoke. Extraordinary, isn’t it?