Decoding the evocative melodies of whales
Insights on whale songs
Marine mammals use sounds to communicate. One of the most famous underwater communication is the whale song. So how and why do whales sing? A mystery surrounds whale songs. How do they physically produce sounds? What is the ultimate purpose of whale song?
Stephanie Sardelis is a Marine Mammalogists scientist who decodes the evocative melodies composed by the world’s largest mammals. Through an animated video she brings insights on how and why do whales sing.
Watch the animated video
Do all species produce songs?
Whales belong to the highly specialized order of mammals the Cetacea, which also includes dolphins and porpoises. Of the over 80 known species of whales and dolphins, only some species produce songs. Worldwide researchers are investigating the exact function and purpose of their melodic communication. They try to decode their songs composed by high-pitched clicks and whistles.
Why do whales sing?
A mystery surrounds the purpose of whale songs. While scientists suggested some likely explanations that range from reproduction to communication: to attract females, to deter other males, for orientation or to display social status to other whales. Whale songs can last up to thirty minutes and songs changes from season to season.
How do scientists listen to the whale song?
Scientists use hydrophones or specialized underwater microphones to listen to whale songs underwater and to record the sounds. These technologies enable them to investigate the song purpose and track the whales for conversation. Each marine mammal makes distinct sounds making species identification from sound files easy and effective.
Can I listen to whales songs too?
If you are interested to see the visualized vocalization patterns of whales then check out the Voices In The Sea. If you want to follow live transmissions of whale songs check out livewhales. These kinds of awareness activities are effective conversation tools because people love to connect with animals that communicate with the complexity equal to that of humans.
One of the threats of whales is the increasing trends of noise generating man-made pressures in the marine environment. Read more about this in the article “Human noise – Are we too noisy for the sea life?”