Humpback whale serenade

Humpback whales are known for the songs they sing…I’m sure you’ve heard it before on a tv commercial for insurance or in some new age soundtrack. These are true “songs,” with themes and phrases that are repeated in a specific order. Only the males sing, and they sing primarily during mating season. Interestingly, all the animals in the same population sing the same song, kind of like their own dialect. Other populations sing different songs.

We have a hydrophone (underwater microphone) with us and throughout our field day we periodically listen for whale song. Sometimes we don’t even need the hydrophone. On many occasions this year we’ve had singers right underneath us, and the sound is amplified by the hull of the boat. It is an amazing experience to hear these animals sing right beneath you and have the sound reverberate throughout the boat.

Here is a recording we made this year of a whale right beneath the boat. There are other whales in the background singing as well…can you hear them? There’s even a few high frequency dolphin whistles in there too.

Here is a picture of the whale singing in the recording. It suddenly stopped singing, and then breached twice in front of us. Notice it's just starting to blow out of its blowhole.

The singer begins a breach out of the water

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