Recent evidence indicates that humpback whales found in the gulf of Maine are adapting to a new feeding behavior in their very own social network. In Do Whales Have Culture? Humpbacks Pass on Behavior, by Jane Lee. She describes how unlike other predisposition patterns, this one is a learned behavior. This feeding pattern is called lobtail feeding and was first recorded by researchers in the 1970’s. The majority of whales are beginning to use this feeding technique that derives from bubble- net feeding and it is proving to be very successful.
One particular marine biologist, Luke Rendell studied lobtail feeding very closely. Lobtail feeding occurs when the Humpback whale slaps the surface of the water up to four times before diving underneath and creating a bubble net (Lee). She was very surprised to learn that his data correlated with the specific feeding pattern. For example, Lee writes, “Though she wasn’t surprised the whales traded information, She was surprised at how strongly her data said the whales learned the new feeding pattern socially, rather than because of other factors like have a genetic predisposition to the behavior”(Lee). This feeding pattern is even taking researchers by surprise. It is very intriguing that whales are very social and pick up behaviors just as easy as humans. This shows that whales and humans have similar traits.
This article was mind-blowing. I was truly captivated by Jane Lee’s writing and her passion for whale behavior. Before reading this article, I was not aware of whale behavioral patterns and I knew very little about whales in general. After reading it, I realized whales have similar behaviors to humans. Humans can very easily develop certain behaviors after social interactions with their friends and so can whales. I hope researchers continue to record humpback whale behavior and publish a follow up article.
Lee, Jane J. "Do Whales Have Culture? Humpbacks Pass on Behavior." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 May 2013.