Whales' Wails Spook Seals
Genesis 11:7: "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."
You hear a bird sing. Can you tell by its dialect where it spends the winter? Birds, like some other creatures, do have different dialects, depending on where they live. However, for most of us, animal dialects are not easy to detect.
Killer whales also have dialects that are reflected in their 17 different calls. Some killer whales are homebodies, staying in the same area for all of their lives. These whales create few problems for local harbor seals on the North American west coast since they stick to a diet of local fish. Other killer whales form groups that cruise up and down North America's west coast, hunting cooperatively. These gangs are not satisfied with fish, and they particularly like harbor seals. Researchers have recorded the calls of both groups and have noted that the calls of each group have differing qualities, which amount to differing dialects. They also found that harbor seals know about this. Though the calls are at a frequency that fish cannot hear, the seals can hear them very well. They ignore the calls of local fish-eating whales. But when a killer gang appears in their neighborhood, harbor seals tend to vacate the area rather quickly.
The ability to communicate and interpret communication are gifts from God, not just to us humans but clearly also to His other creatures.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the gift of language. Let my words always bear witness of Your love to us in Christ. Amen.
Notes: Science News, 11/16/02, p. 308, S. Milius, "Ear for Killers."
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