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The Magic Is Unspoken-"Whale whisperer" Swims With The Giants Of The Sea Reveals Their Secret World


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'The magic is in the unspoken': Whale 'whispere' who swims with the giants of the sea reveals their secret world - and why they're more like humans than you'd ever expect

  • A whale researcher and photographer, 24, has shared spectacular images of underwater whale encounters
  • Annabelle Wall said the most special thing about the marine mammals is what they can say with their eyes
  • 'The magic is in the unspoken ... (It's in) the mutual respect. The eye contact,' said Ms Wall, from Sydney
  • Ms Wall today revealed some of the secrets of the giants of the sea to Daily Mail Australia

By DANIEL PIOTROWSKI FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA 

PUBLISHED: 18:59 EDT, 9 July 2019 | UPDATED: 21:22 EDT, 20 July 2019

 

Whale species speak their own 'languages', have their own cultures and they fast, dance, mate and get jealous just like humans. 

But to one whale researcher who has been 'serenaded' by them, the most special thing about these magnificent mammals is what they can say with their eyes alone.

'The magic is in the unspoken,' said Annabelle Wall, a marine life researcher with Sydney's Macquarie University.

'(It's in) the silent acknowledgement of one another. The mutual respect. The eye contact.' 

Ms Wall has swum just metres away from whales off the coast of Tonga and shared spectacular pictures of her underwater encounters with Daily Mail Australia, and an insight into their lives in the depths of the world's oceans. 

Whale researcher and photographer Annabelle Wall, 24, swims with a humpback in the waters off Tonga, above. She says the experience is 'magical' - and has shared some of the giants' secrets with Daily Mail Australia
 
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Whale researcher and photographer Annabelle Wall, 24, swims with a humpback in the waters off Tonga, above. She says the experience is 'magical' - and has shared some of the giants' secrets with Daily Mail Australia

Ms Wall (left) has been fascinated with the creatures for five years - so much so the 'whale whisperer' began researching them professionally
 
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Whale selfie: Ms Wall says whales speak their own languages, have their own cultures, fast, dance, mate and get jealous just like humans
 
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Whale whisperer: Ms Wall (left) has been fascinated with the creatures for five years - so much so the she began researching them professionally. She said the marine mammals speak their own languages, of a kind, and have their own cultures

'You swim towards them - they actually look like an aeroplane - and then you think, damn, this fin is going to hit me! But then they ever so seamlessly just drop it. They know exactly where you are, and they don't hit you.'
 
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'You swim towards them - they actually look like an aeroplane - and then you think, damn, this fin is going to hit me! But then they ever so seamlessly just drop it. They know exactly where you are, and they don't hit you.'

'They eat differently, just like Australians have forks and Japanese have chopsticks' 

Just like humans, whales 'teach each other things, they talk to each other, they have their own languages,' Ms Wall said. 

In other words, different groupings of whales have their own cultures. They also teach each other lessons that help them survive the seas.

'Whale cultures differ between regions of the world, just like how people's culture vary throughout the world,' she said. 

'Different whales use different methods of eating, exactly like how the Japanese use their chopsticks and Australians use their forks.'

For instance, whales off America's east coast feed with a 'lob tail' method in which they slap the surface of the water with their tail and 'stun' the fish which the pod can then feed on. 

Humpbacks that feed off the coast of Japan work together to create 'bubble nets', in which they use their blowholes to surround the school of fish with an impenetrable ring of bubbles and then, on a cue delivered by the leader of the group, eat them.

'It's very sophisticated, said Ms Wall. 'They're all working together, it's so amazing. 

'There's the one designated whale that does the bubbling and then one that sits outside the circle that's calling them and telling them when to play their part. 

'It's incredible, and that's just humpbacks, and that's just one of their feeding behaviours.'   

Whale cultures differ between regions of the world - just like how human culture varies, Ms Wall said. 'Different whales use different methods of eating, exactly like how the Japanese use their chopsticks and Australians use their forks'
 
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Whale cultures differ between regions of the world - just like how human culture varies, Ms Wall said. 'Different whales use different methods of eating, exactly like how the Japanese use their chopsticks and Australians use their forks'

The whale words for 'hey, how are you doing?', 'where are you?' and 'I'm really beautiful, look at me' 

Just like humans, whales use sound to communicate, and some, like orcas and smaller dolphin species, also navigate with it.   

Scientists have analysed their calls and songs and have figured out what certain noises mean, Ms Wall said. 

'They have the clicks which are the 'where am I?' (noise) and whistles where they change intonation and tone. That's like 'hey, how are you doing, where are you?' 

An American researcher has revealed that one species of dolphin use different sounds to talk about each whale. In other words, 'they have names for each other,' Ms Wall said. 

Humpback songs are mating calls, Ms Wall said. They are saying 'I'm really beautiful, look at me!' But some whale species are believed to even have names for each other and use sound to seek each other out
 
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Humpback songs are mating calls, Ms Wall said. They are saying 'I'm really beautiful, look at me!' But some whale species are believed to even have names for each other and use sound to seek each other out

Meanwhile, humpbacks are famous for their songs. 

'The song is only sung by the male and that's a mating call: 'I'm really beautiful, look at me'',' she said. 

'That changes all the time, morphs throughout the season and over years. 

'That's different to just normal humpback vocalisations, which are all low frequency sounds, again (it's) communication, 'where are you, where did you go?'

Humpbacks also blast a 'trumpeting' noise when under threat. And of course, they make grunting noises to express their masculinity during mating attempts.  

From the randy teens leading the way to 'starving' for months: What you didn't know about whale migration

The frisky teenage males are the first humpbacks to make the trek up from Antarctica along the east coast of Australia, usually about May. 

'The young boys and teenagers, they're getting really hot and heavy, and want to have a go at some females before all the big bulls get up there, so they come up first.

'The females that are pregnant and are going to give birth, they don't want to leave for a long time because they want to get all the food that they can.' 

Another thing that is not commonly known about whales migration is that they are essentially 'fasting' when they migrate.  

'They're starving on the way to the feeding grounds,' Ms Wall said, eating very little for six months of the year.   

The first humpbacks to migrate up from Antarctica are the randy teenage males - who 'want to have a go at some females before all the big bulls get up there'
 
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The first humpbacks to migrate up from Antarctica are the randy teenage males - who 'want to have a go at some females before all the big bulls get up there' 

Speak up! The whale equivalent of living under a flight path

Whales have had to change the way they communicate due to the big racket humans make in the oceans nowadays. 

The sound from increasing shipping traffic and oil rigs produce are to whales what a human experiences when a plane flies directly overhead.

'They've had to seek different ways to communicate now thanks to the amount of noise in the ocean from humans,' Ms Wall said. 

‘In a different species than humpbacks, they've noticed a change in the frequency of their communication, because of nearby boats, they've had to go lower or higher to be heard.'  

The surprising colour whales can't see 

Through the eyes of a whale, the deep blue sea looks similar to what humans see in outer space. 

Whales can only see in black and white and cannot see blue - despite being surrounded by every shade of the colour.  

'They lack the blue-receiving pigment,' Ms Wall said, unlike most mammals.

What it's like to swim with a whale  

Ms Wall said encountering a whale while in the water is like having a jumbo jet coming towards you – but one with a big brain, thoughts, and feelings.

'They're so self-aware -- you think they're so huge, they're 15m long, they're 40 tonnes, their pectoral fin is five metres long,' Ms Wall said.

'You don't approach them, but you hope to dear God they come near you. 

'As they swim towards you they actually look like an aeroplane - and then you think, damn, this fin is going to hit me!

'But then they ever so seamlessly just drop it. They know exactly where you are, and they don't hit you.'

Ms Wall said: 'They're so self-aware -- you think they're so huge, they're 15m long, they're 40 tonnes, their pectoral fin is five metres long.' She said while they are predators, they are curious, and have no reason to go, 'oh, humans, chomp'
 
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Ms Wall said: 'They're so self-aware -- you think they're so huge, they're 15m long, they're 40 tonnes, their pectoral fin is five metres long.' She said while they are predators, they are curious, and have no reason to go, 'oh, humans, chomp'

Ms Wall described the whales in the Tongan sea as 'swimming in circles around the four of us' and acting 'extremely playful', performing 'ballet like' moves
 
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Ms Wall described the whales in the Tongan sea as 'swimming in circles around the four of us' and acting 'extremely playful', performing 'ballet like' moves

Freediver comes face to face with humpback whale
 
 
 

While a similar encounter with a shark would have swimmers fearing for their lives, there was no threat from approaching whales. 

'They have no reason to go, 'oh humans, chomp!'

'They're curious, they're very curious.'

Ms Wall described the whales in the Tongan sea as 'swimming in circles around the four of us' and acting 'extremely playful'.

She said they danced around, performing 'ballet like moves', and the special encounter left her wishing she could understand their strange languages. 

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Of course the Trump administration cares nothing about the degradation of the environment of these magnificent intelligent creatures.  Not only are they allowing navy tests that injure the whales locomotive systems, often leading to death due to stranding, but also we filling our oceans with tons of plastics and garbage that not only kills sea creatures directly, but causes vast dead zones in the ocean where life cannot exist, all for the profits of the plastics industry, and to coddled Americans feeling incovenienced they cannot use plastic straws.  Shameful shortsighted behavior that will come back to hurt us all.

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1 hour ago, Arturo said:

Of course the Trump administration cares nothing about the degradation of the environment of these magnificent intelligent creatures.  Not only are they allowing navy tests that injure the whales locomotive systems, often leading to death due to stranding, but also we filling our oceans with tons of plastics and garbage that not only kills sea creatures directly, but causes vast dead zones in the ocean where life cannot exist, all for the profits of the plastics industry, and to coddled Americans feeling incovenienced they cannot use plastic straws.  Shameful shortsighted behavior that will come back to hurt us all.

These points you make are so true,but don't blame Trump.These problems predate Trump by decades.

Another unreported problem is the Fukushima nuclear power station accident still pouring millions of gallons of "hot"(irradiated) water into the Pacific ocean every day...but nuthin' said cuz the Japanese Gov't made it illegal to report on this ongoing poisoning of the ocean.

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20 minutes ago, JR33928 said:

These points you make are so true,but don't blame Trump.These problems predate Trump by decades.

Another unreported problem is the Fukushima nuclear power station accident still pouring millions of gallons of "hot"(irradiated) water into the Pacific ocean every day...but nuthin' said cuz the Japanese Gov't made it illegal to report on this ongoing poisoning of the ocean.

Godzilla hasn't taught them one thing has it? ;)

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTDzC_gh6nBOj-ghUuW530

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