Hi, I am a sperm whale, and no my name is not Moby Dick, nor am I all-white! I’m not sure whether I should laud Herman Melville for putting sperm whales at the pantheon of literature, or if I should curse him for making us look as lovable as a mosquito.
In any case, sperm whales have been in the news lately. First because humans have filmed a live giant squid in the ocean for the first time (see previous post), and recently the footage was shown on national TV. Humans seem to associate giant squid with us sperm whales. Our epic battles with giant squid are highly romanticized by humans, but we don’t mind! I have a few battle scars, but let me tell you, sperm whales win almost all the time. Squid may be intelligent for an invertebrate, but they are not a highly intelligent mammal. They also don’t have foolproof echolocation like I do!
The other reason sperm whales are in the news is because my pod recently “adopted” a dolphin with a deformed spine. I am not sure why his dolphin pod rejected him, but we are happy to have the fellow around. He is quite playful and joyful, and the calves enjoy his company. The calves especially like spending time with him when the adults go on deep dives to feed. Usually the calves are left at the surface with only one adult sperm whale.
We allow him to rub against us, as it means the same socially for sperm whales as it does for dolphins. In fact, dolphins technically are just small whales.
So why did we let this dolphin hang out with us? Well, life in the open ocean can get lonely and a bit monotonous as all we do on a daily basis is swim through open water, and dive deep to find food. So we make friends wherever we go, whether it is just in passing, or for longer terms, like with this dolphin fellow. We socialize a lot more than humans think, and just because they have never seen us do it doesn’t mean we don’t do it regularly!