Sperm whale goes fishing

Whether it’s the recent video of the rook using tools to get food or this story of a sperm whale “fishing” the long lines, there is always a big surprise about what various animals are doing, as if they’re not very smart. The only surprise is that it’s finally on video. Why should it be surprising that animals are clever? There is a video inside the link that’s fun to watch of the sperm whale shaking a long line, knocking it’s snack off the hook while not getting tangled in the line.

The video, described in the current Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, shows the sperm whale plucking a short fishing line at one end to jar a black cod at the other end free.

“It’s comparable to someone shaking apples from an apple tree,” said Thode, who added that the whale then “cleverly figured out how to remove its jaw away from the line, avoiding entanglement.”

During the theft, the whale emitted rapid-fire clicks — “louder than a firecracker” — that got faster as it approached the cod. The scientists now believe sperm whales may produce the animal kingdom’s loudest and most intense sounds.

The footage also permitted the first-ever direct comparison between sperm whale clicking and physical features of the noise producer’s head.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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