A new research showed that sperm whales communicate through different variations of their typical clicking sounds, being analog to human dialects. This finding brings back old theories that sperm whales use their own dialects just like humans do.

Researchers have longtime known that whales produce loud clicking sounds to communicate with other whales. What was surprising about the research is that scientists found that sperm whales communicated through different variations of the clicking sounds, at different regions around the world.

Underwater photographer Franco Banfi captured these amazing images of the 45 tonne mammals swimming close to the island of Dominica. Image from: zmescience.com

For the study, experts closely tracked groups of whales during two four week trips between 1985 and 2003, recording both images and sound. The report, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that “dialects” in whales emerged as a result of a cultural learning process very similar to human’s.

However, experts remain puzzled as to how the different groups created different dialects and culture. “Providing evidence that the processes generating the complex and diverse cultures in human populations could also be at play in non-human societies is a crucial step towards evaluating the contrasts and convergences between human and non-human cultures,” researchers wrote.

This is not the first piece of evidence that shows that animals have a culture. In a study conducted by Andy White and his colleagues in the 1990’s, the team concluded that the chimpanzees had their own different cultures. Additionally, another study also determined that killer whales have their own dialects that they learn from others.

Source: Nature Communications