Harbor Seals Shown to Differentiate Killer Whales
by Becky A. Dayhuff

A study recently conducted by Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center researchers has shown harbor seals to be capable of distinguishing between killer whales that prey upon fish and mammals by their vocalizations.

The researchers recorded sounds produced by members of the two genetically distinct groups of killer whales and then reproduced them underwater near a number of harbor seals. The seals showed little reaction when they heard the vocalizations of the fish-eating group, but fled when the sounds produced by the mammal-eating group were played back.

"They take a play-it-safe approach," Volker Deecke, who led the team that conducted the study, told a Nature reporter.

"Seals really need to key in to exactly who represents a potential threat," Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute marine biologist Stephen Insley said while commenting on the results of the study. "(This) makes a lot of sense."

"We assume a lot of intelligence from whales," said Deecke. "This shows that seals are quite bright animals too."

Seals Learn Killers' Clicks
by Tom Clarke

Selective Habituation Shapes Acoustic Predator Recognition in Harbour Seals

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center