texted whale

This is how we would call cetaceans if we sticked to a literal translation of their scientific name:

Humpback whale: Megaptera novaeangliae

  • Large-winged New Englander

Blue whale: Balaenoptera musculus

  • Mouse whale - Keep in mind that this huge animal is the largest mammal ever. Mouse whale is its name.

Minke whale: Balaenoptera acuto-rostrata 

  • Sharp-snout whale

Killer whale: Orcinus orca

  • Whale from the kingdom of the dead, or Orcus’ whale - Orcus was the Roman god of death and the underworld.

Sperm whale: Physeter macrocephalus 

  • Big-headed blowpipe

Harbour porpoise: Phocoena phocoena

  • Big seal

Cuvier’s beaked whale: Ziphius cavirostris 

  • Sword-shaped hollow head

I can’t stop watching the video of those Sperm Whales welcoming a deformed dolphin into their pod.

The more I think of it (and I’ve been thinking of it a lot), the more I realise just how amazing that behavior is. Sperm Whales are not prone to forming bonds with other species. This might be relatively common for other whales, but not for Sperm Whales.

Now this particular dolphin might have been picked on and ostracised by other dolphins. Or its malformation simply might have not allowed it to keep up with them. It might have approached the Sperm Whales looking for new ‘travel buddies’, swimming with them, following their path, would have been way easier. So this is clearly convenient for the dolphin.

What’s surprising is that those whales accepted its presence. But there might be an explanation to that as well. There’s calves in that pod (look for the smaller awkward ones). When Sperm Whales swim in big pods they will take turns and while some dive to way deeper waters to hunt, an adult or two will usually stay by the surface with the calves to look after them, until the others come back.

That dolphin might have simply been seen as an extra babysitter, extra protection for their calves in waters full of predators.

So they basically went “Hey you are a little weird, but the kids like you, you can stay and babysit them. There’s Giant Squid leftovers in the fridge, feel free to help yourself”. 

Let’s play a game!

When we speak of whales in English, we often use the names they have been given by whalers. So some of those names may sound funny *cough* SPERM WHALE *cough cough* or simply outdated. 

So here’s how this simple game works. Pick one whale species and come up with a different name for it. Science will most likely be grateful for this.

I’ll start with…

Sperm Whale: Mighty pickle of sonar death