Nope. Ain’t humpback whales making these tunes…


Click to enlargeKit Kovacs/Norwegian Polar Institute

❝ Spring is the time of year when birds are singing throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Far to the north, beneath the ice, another lesser-known concert season in the natural world is just coming to an end.

A University of Washington study has published the largest set of recordings for bowhead whales, to discover that these marine mammals have a surprisingly diverse, constantly shifting vocal repertoire.

❝ “If humpback whale song is like classical music, bowheads are jazz,” said lead author Kate Stafford, an oceanographer at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory. “The sound is more freeform. And when we looked through four winters of acoustic data, not only were there never any song types repeated between years, but each season had a new set of songs…”

“We were hoping when we put the hydrophone out that we might hear a few sounds,” Stafford said of the earlier study. “When we heard, it was astonishing: Bowhead whales were singing loudly, 24 hours a day, from November until April. And they were singing many, many different songs.”

Click through to the complete article. I’ve been lucky enough to know a few folks working on research like this. A delight. A service to this planet and some of the species living here.

One thought on “Nope. Ain’t humpback whales making these tunes…

  1. Herman says:

    “Right Whales Seem to Think before They Speak” (Scientific American 4/9/18) https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/right-whales-seem-to-think-before-they-speak/
    “Can anyone save the North Atlantic right whale? A group of South Shore lobstermen say they know what the answer is and they have banded together to try to do it, but they need help.” )Boston Globe 4/11/18) https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2018/04/11/can-anyone-save-north-atlantic-right-whale/iS76fBOUn9PdnL9LySgmhN/story.html
    Meanwhile: “A few miles off the coast of the rapidly warming Antarctic Peninsula, scientists are getting their first-ever detailed look at one of the most mysterious mammals on the planet, minke whales. https://grist.org/article/a-mysterious-whale-species-swims-in-warming-waters/ Smaller cousins of the mammoth blue whale, the elusive minkes have remained mostly out of reach in the deep fjords of the icy Antarctic. It wasn’t until earlier this month that a team of scientists using an array of drones, suction-cap tags, and whale-mounted video cameras uncovered some basic facts about the species, such as their average size and how they moved. They discovered that minkes, long thought to be loners, are outgoing and social. They found out that minkes had spots.” (includes video and still photos)

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