photo: Ed T/Creative Commons
I have to say this is one of the most fascinating stories I've seen in a while: Wired reports that in a February issue of Animal Behavior biologists discuss their preliminary research findings suggesting the sperm whales may call each other by individual names.Again, this is tentative, but analysis of the sounds made by Caribbean sperm whales shows that there are subtle variations in the timing of clicks used in communications that are "individually distinctive."
There is no doubt in my mind that the animals can tell the difference between the timing of individuals." Moreover, 5R tends to be made at the beginning of each coda string as if, like old-time telegraph operators clicking out a call sign, they were identifying themselves. Said [biologist Luke Rendell], "It may function to let the animals know which individual is vocalizing."