Friendly Whales

The New York Times looks at the history of human-whale interaction, from whale hunting to the modern effects of sonar on the cetaceans. A very different type of interaction takes place in the lagoons of Baja California, Mexico, where gray whales give birth. The mother whales seek out human contact, as if wanting to make friends.
Some marine biologists have dismissed the phenomenon as little more than a reflexive behavior, suggesting that the whales are merely attracted to the sound of the boats’ motors or that they are looking to scratch their lice-ridden and barnacled backs against the boats’ hulls. Still, a combination of anecdotal evidence and recent scientific research into whale biology and behavior suggests that there may something far more compelling going on in the lagoons of Baja each winter and spring. Something, let’s say, along the lines of that time-worn plot conceit behind many a film, in which the peaceable greetings of alien visitors are tragically rebuffed by human fear and ignorance. Except that in this particular rendition, the aliens keep coming back, trying, perhaps, to give us another chance. To let us, of all species, off the hook.

New whale research shows that the animals are smarter than previously thought. Could they be trying to tell us something? Link -via Metafilter

(image credit: Ivan Chermayeff)

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