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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Fascinating Observation

“One of the world's premier sperm-whale experts, Hal Whitehead, began observing whales in [the Galapagos] in 1985 . . . . He has found that the typical pod of whales, which ranges between three and twenty or so individuals, is comprised almost exclusively of interrelated adult females and immature whales . . . . The females work cooperatively in taking care of their young . . . . Young males leave the family unit at around six years of age and make their way to cooler waters of the high latitudes. Here they live singly or with other males, not returning to the warm waters of their birth until their late twenties . . . .

The sperm whale’s network of female-based family unites resembled, to a remarkable extent, the community the whalemen had left back home in Nantucket. In both societies the males were itinerants. In their dedication to killing sperm whales the Nantucketers had developed a system of social relationships that mimicked those of their prey.”

Philbrick, Nathaniel. In The Heart Of The Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship “Essex”. Penguin, 2000. (p. 70-71)

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