Are Humpback Whales DJ’s of the seas?
ATI’s Underwater Acoustics For Biologist s and Conservation Managers course is scheduled to be presented on June 13-16, 2011 in Columbia, MD. We think the news below would be of interest to our readers and potential students.
New Australian study published in Current Biology on April 14, 2011 says “yes”. The 11 year long study was conducted in the South Pacific. As it turns out, humpback whales change their song overtime to stand out amongst other whales and appeal to female whales. There is something of a fashion trade in whale songs: one whale changes his song and soon enough all the other whales follow suit. This behavior has never been observed in any other non-human species on the planet.
Here are the highlights of the study:
· Humpback whale songs have repeatedly moved east across the South Pacific
· The songs moved across the region in a series of cultural waves
· The waves frequently caused complete “cultural revolution” of the song
· The scale, rate, and repetition of these cultural changes are unparalleledThe humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from 12–16 metres (39–52 ft) and weigh approximately 36,000 kilograms (79,000 lb). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is an acrobatic animal, often breaching and slapping the water. Males produce a complex whale song, which lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and is repeated for hours at a time. Read more here