Credit By: Phys.org
Whales have been seen playing with kelp, which is an odd habit in the wide stretches of the ocean where shallow waters provide little pleasure. This playful engagement with seaweed, known as “keeping,” has piqued the interest of experts and marine enthusiasts. Motivated by more than a hundred cases recorded on social media, this habit, frequently seen in different whale species, raises concerns about why it occurs and what the underlying reasons are.
Grey, Right, and Humpback Whales Come Together
The idea that kelping is unique to one kind of whale is false because it has been observed in several whale species. Photographs have shown grey whales, southern and northern right whales, and humpback whales enjoying this entertaining seaweed sport. This diversity gives the study of marine mammal behavior a fascinating new dimension.
Looking Past the Surface: Deciphering the Fun Dynamics
Although news stories and social media have highlighted the fun side of whales interacting with kelp, there still needs to be more scientific research on the topic. Nonetheless, two significant conclusions are revealed by new research that makes use of the abundance of social media data. To start, kelping is definitely entertaining. Secondly, it has a practical side as well; it can be used for anything from itching relief to getting rid of bothersome whale lice.
The Usable Side: Petting, Grasping, and Tasting
There’s a useful side to whales playing with seaweed beyond the fantastical. Scientists speculate that whales may be utilizing seaweed as a tool to remove barnacles, itch spots that are difficult to reach, and whale lice—parasites that annoy these enormous marine animals. Therefore, the behaviors that appear to be amusing may have a dual aim that combines enjoyment and usefulness.
Keeping Customs: In search of seaweed and cooperative actions
Reports indicate that keeping sightings is more common in areas that are rich in kelp, a hardy seaweed that can endure the force of whale blows. During their migration, humpback whales, one of the more common species, are frequently seen performing this behavior in photographs and videos. The study has gained additional insight from the use of drones, which have shown whales actively searching for seaweed, which they may play with or utilize for up to an hour. Whales have fascinating cooperative behaviors, such as sharing kelp patches.
Standards for Animal Play
When categorizing an animal’s behavior as play, scientists take three factors into account. It should seem pleasurable and voluntary, different from more important activities, and it shouldn’t make you feel stressed or hungry. All these conditions are met by keeping, indicating that, in addition to being purely enjoyable, it may also help these magnificent marine creatures’ coordination and movement skills over the long run.
Revealing Possible Advantages
Suggested advantages by researchers go beyond the sheer delight of gaming. It is known that some seaweed species inhibit the growth of bacteria, which may be beneficial to whales. Considering that whales regularly shed their skin to prevent the formation of bacteria, experimenting with seaweed may provide a natural skincare solution. Furthermore, the repetitive motion of pushing through seaweed may help whales get rid of unwanted visitors like sea lice and barnacle larvae.
An Intimate Look at the Magical World of Whales
The kelping phenomenon offers an intriguing window into whales’ lively and curious personalities. Better drones and cameras made possible by technological advancements boost the possibility of documenting more cases of whale keeping. The finding of such seemingly irrational behaviors highlights how much more there is to learn about these magnificent creatures in their natural home, even as we delve further into the mysteries of well-studied whale species. The world of whales never ceases to amaze and mesmerize us.
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