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'Lost' Baby Sperm Whale Jumps For Joy When Reunited With His Family
Every small child knows the panic of losing sight of his mother in the supermarket, and as these delightful pictures show, small whales obviously feel the same way.
Taken by a British diver who was following the sperm whale calf, they show the minute the baby - who had lost track of his mum - found her again in the sea off the Azores.
Soaring 30ft across the waves, the euphoric newborn slammed his body onto the water with joy after becoming separated from his family group in the chilly waters.
The newborn sperm whale calf leapt out of the water and slammed his 12ft-long body onto the sea to tell his mother he had found her again
But the adorable whale calf was doing more than just jumping for joy.
British biologist and dive guide Justin Hart, 44, who took the pictures, says that young whales communicate with older ones in the ocean by creating a slamming sound which travels through the water to the ears of the adults deep below.
By leaping out of the water and slamming his 12ft long body onto the surface of the sea up to 30 times, the baby whale is telling his relatives where he is so they can regroup.
He said: 'We had been following the sperm whale calf for most of the day.
'Sperm whales, of all the whales and dolphins, are the species that dive the deepest and for the longest time.
'The calves have to follow what's going on below them from the surface as best they can - probably listening to the echo location clicks of the adults.
'However sometimes the adults re-surface far out of sight of the calf - and in this situation the whales often breach or leap out of the water causing a large bang as their bodies hit the surface.
Mr Hart, who is originally from London but now lives on Pico Island in the Azores, said in this way, the whale family could regroup and the calf could suckle if he needed to.
He added: 'When I took the photo two adult females had just resurfaced and the calf quite literally began jumping for joy.'
Mr Hart captured the rare image four miles from the port of Lajes do Pico while he was working as a crewman on an underwater documentary with special licence to film sperm whales in the area.
The baby whale slams his body onto the water to tell the adults where he is so that they can regroup
The sperm whale pod was photographed four miles off the island of Pico in the middle of the Atlantic
Sperm whales live in nearly all the world's oceans in pods of about 15 to 20 animals and they practise communal childcare.
When the baby is fully grown adult he will weigh up to 45 tonnes and be nearly 60ft long - around the same as two double decker buses end-to-end.
Mr Hart said the sperm whales dived deep to hunt squid in what is called the mesopelagic zone, around 600 metres under.
He said: 'This is a problem for the calves as they do not have the capacity to follow their mothers there when they leave the surface to forage.
'The calves do not have to follow their mother too closely as sperm whales have a system of surrogacy whereby the calf can take milk from any milk-producing female in his social group.'