Communication and Social Behavior

Low and High Frequency

General Communication vs. Echolocation
All cetacean species are able to communicate for a variety of purposes. This includes mothers and calves staying in contact, group hunting, animals finding each other over a large area, and males sending messages of aggression to other males. However, odontocetes are also able to create sounds to echolocate, so they can find food and navigate. Learn more

Acoustic Habitat
Water is thicker than air, so sound moves much faster through water, approximately four times faster. Learn more

Breaching, Lobtailing, and Surface Behavior
Whales and their kin use a variety of forms of non-vocal communication to share messages with those around them. Learn more

Social Structure
Some killer whale populations have a very unusual social structure in that both males and females remain with their mothers as long as she is alive! In bottlenose dolphins, the strongest associations are between adult males. Such complex social structures have not been described in mysticetes. For example, gray whale populations, have no long-lasting associations or social cohesion. Learn more

Watkins Marine Mammal Sound Database
The William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings consists of recordings of various marine mammal species collected over a span of seven decades in a wide range of geographic areas by Watkins and many others. Learn more