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Nature or Nurture?

Posted by on July 31, 2011

What’s genetic?  What’s learned?  All genealogists, hobbyist or professional, will start to see trends in family….appearance, personality, behavior, etc.  Just as you are stuck with your genetic makeup, I would say there are some behaviors and traits that are almost as unchangeable.  Ask any therapist.  They make good money off of these ingrained behaviors.

Genealogy.com discusses this is their article on Nature vs. Nurture Are We Really Born That Way?.  It’s been discussed in many contexts and for a long time.  And the field of genealogy is using the very “nature” of people to determine relationships with the DNA testing available (I think I’m ready to start exploring this but there’s just no time!).  But I don’t want to start an argument.  I want to talk about whales.

Humpback whales in Alaska engage in “bubble net feeding,” a pack-like behavior not seen with all humpback whales.  At Auke Bay in Juneau, Alaska we saw a bubble net feeding.  I saw 3-5 at a time, but I think someone said they saw up to 9.  A group of whales start with a dive.

Bubbles are blown by the whales and they make a series of calls.  Although our boat captain had dropped a microphone, I never heard the calls.  But it is these calls that seem to drive the school of fish against the “wall” of bubbles.  Then the entire group of whales can scoop of the fish (they swallow them whole), not so unlike what I do with a bowl of hot sauce and some chips.

Nicely done (and not too long so you don’t need to settle in with hot sauce and chips) summary is at the Alaska Whale Foundation website.  I like what they call it there: “a choreographed feeding event.”  My photos don’t do it justice so it’s worth watching this 2:10 YouTube video.

So what’s the point, you may ask while pulling at your hair?  Some whales had to figure this technique out.  And where it worked best.  And teach it.  Learned behavior.  A whale legacy.  Oh, and I love Alaska and I like to talk about it.  I’m ready to plan trip #3 there.

And if you like whales and things of that sort, and you would like to include conservation efforts as part of your legacy AND you are in my neck of the woods, check out San Antonio SeaWorld’s 2nd Annual Run for the Fund which benefits the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.  See you there!

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