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Known to be one of the most highly cognitive species, orcas use "whistles" like the ones you hear above to stay in touch and recognize one another. Learned by calves from their mothers and elders, whistles are complex, tonal sounds containing the signature 'voice' of each individual and are thought to also facilitate social interactions.
They say we all grow up to be our parents... Across the world's oceans, orcas calves have been found to develop a signature 'whistle' bearing similar patterns to their parents. Through these findings, biologists can begin to trace lineages of families and have even discovered unique whistle 'dialects' that form amongst different pods. Now that's a real ocean orca-stra!
One of the most iconic species on our planet, the orca's survival as a species is under heavy threat. Noise pollution, overfishing, and other human activities are making it extremely difficult for orca to find enough prey to sustain their populations. For as long as humans have walked the Earth, millions of us have depended on the oceans for fishing, our economies linked to our underwater ecosystems. Paramount to the livelihood of both humans and all sea life is the success of apex predators such as the orca. Dubbed the 'umbrella' species of its habitat, its existence underpins the balance of ecosystems from the harbours of British Colombia to the isles of Scotland. Let's share the ocean. By promoting sustainable fisheries and restricting overuse of orca habitats, humans can benefit significantly from protecting orcas and their marine ecosystems.
Tracking animals through a forest is hard enough, but tracking them at sea is another kettle of fish. Ocean research suffers from a lack of data - while the majority of orca sub-populations around the world are reeling and declining steeply, the global population cannot be listed as endangered. This is deeply concerning for conservationists - we can't protect what we can't find. More funding is crucial for the future of our ocean's top predators, along with stricter legislations with regard to sustainable fishing practices.
Fortunately, the plight of orca is becoming more widely recognized and conservation efforts are ramping up. Most recently, Russia added orca to their official endangered list which experts say should put a halt on international orca trafficking.
With a 25% donation to wildlife non-profits, every SoundBites Designs T-shirt helps endangered animals.
So wear the shirt. Scan the code. Let's make some noise about wildlife conservation!