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Fluke Footage Shows How Sperm Whales Steal
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Fluke Footage Shows How Sperm Whales Steal
Fluke Footage Shows How Sperm Whales Steal
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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Now, it's time for our Video Pick of the Week.


RAEBURN: Hi, Flora. Thanks for joining us. What do we have on tap?

LICHTMAN: This week, we have a study that recently came out about sperm whales. And it was kind of a miraculous video capture by these researchers at Scripps and one in Alaska.

And Aaron Thode is the researcher who explains the study to us. But basically, he and his team were investigating this problem that fishermen had been complaining of. They are long-line fishermen in Alaska that are fishing for black cod, or sablefish. And they noticed for years that sperm whales seem to be stealing the fish off their lines in the water.

And so the research team said, well, you know, I think maybe we can get to the bottom of this by attaching a video camera to one of these fishing lines.

RAEBURN: Did they really know it was sperm whales doing it? Did they see them doing it or was that a guess?

LICHTMAN: They knew because they see them coming up to breathe near the boat. And it's usually kind of a predictable formula. So they put the lines out. They anchor them. And then they come back to get them sort of within the day.

And when they pull them up, they turn off the motor and the line starts going up, and then they sort of move position so that they have to turn the motor on. And this series of sounds seems to attract the sperm whales like a dinner bell.

RAEBURN: When they turn the motor on.

LICHTMAN: On and off, in these short bursts.

RAEBURN: Here comes Pavlov's sperm whales.

LICHTMAN: Exactly. And they've - you know, they've learned that this means fish to eat.

RAEBURN: And so what do we see on the video?

LICHTMAN: So this video shows exactly how a sperm whale steals the fish off of the line. And it…

RAEBURN: You'll see a sperm whale doing it?

LICHTMAN: We see - we catch a sperm whale in the act, as this…

RAEBURN: Is this - this guy is now in a holding cell, I guess, ready to be prosecuted?

LICHTMAN: I think he escaped.

RAEBURN: He escaped, okay. So, and how do people find that?

LICHTMAN: They go to our Web site, that's and it's right there on the front of the page. And it is a miraculous video. I don't think anyone has captured this before, so worth a look.

RAEBURN: Okay. And they can also find the archive of your previous collected works?

LICHTMAN: Oh, yes.

RAEBURN: Great. Thanks for being with us, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thank you.

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