Science: The Chattering Whale

"If you see any sperm whales, try to listen to them, will you?" These were about the last words heard by the crew of the research vessel Atlantis before casting off last spring from the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution on a voyage to trace currents in the Atlantic. They were shouted at dockside by tall (6 ft. 1 in.), intense Harvard Zoologist William Edward Schevill.

No one was startled by Schevill's request. He is always asking colleagues to eavesdrop on sperm whales—not when the whales are puffing and blowing on the surface, but while they are submerged. Schevill wants to pin...

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