Grab your tissues, and get ready to call your mom – because this one is hitting us right in the feels. Scientists determined that baby humpback whales whisper to their moms when they sense a predator is near in order to stay safe.
Humpback whales are known for their ability to "talk" to one another. They use a series of squeaks and grunts to communicate – and these sounds are often called songs. While it shouldn't be surprising that a mother whale and her young talk to one another, it's a new revelation that they share private moments. Humpback babies and their mothers are already tightly bonded – a mother whale travels incredible distances with her baby tucked close – but this fact just makes them even closer.
We're not crying; you are.
They Whisper When There's Potential Danger, But They Might Be Doing It All The Time Too
Just like a human child might do with its mother, when humpback babies sense danger, they get close to their mamas and whisper. Scientists were only able to discover this after studying them off the coast of Australia during child-rearing season. Researchers followed eight calves and their moms to learn more about baby whales – part of which included recording the animals' sounds.
They observed that when mommy and baby were together, they were virtually silent. This was a departure from non-mothering females and males, who were quite vocal. However, when they got closer, they picked up very low frequencies of noise between the mom and the baby. They quickly determined they were whispering to one another – usually when they sensed a potential predator around – but it's likely they always communicate this way with one another when they're traveling.
Calves Also Communicate With Their Body Language
Researchers also found that baby humpback whales will use their bodies to tell their mothers exactly what the want. Instead of calling out to their mothers when they're hungry, humpback whale calves will lightly tap or nudge them. This is probably because calling out to their mothers – or crying like human babies do – signals to potential predators that they're around.
In reality, baby humpback whales are in high demand for some predatory animals. Killer whales love preying on the calves during mating season and are apparently pretty good at picking them off.
Baby Humpback Whales Travel Thousands Of Miles To Mate, And They Nurse For An Entire Year
Humpback whales migrate to mate, and they constantly communicate with one another to determine who is a good fit with whom. These amazing animals can travel up to 16,000 miles a year during this time. Once a baby is conceived, mother humpback whales carry their babies for 10 to 16 months and give live births. Once the babies are born, they nurse for another year.
Humpback whales can only give birth to one baby at a time, meaning they focus their entire energy on a single calf for about two years until they're ready to reproduce again. This creates a really special connection between a mother and a baby before the calf is ready to mature and go out on its own.