What do Justin Bieber and whales have in common?
Both can spread their tunes throughout the world! Researchers in Australia have found some surprising results after studying the singing culture of humpback whales.
Do you sing songs that you’ve heard on the radio? Music comes to our ears from all over the world as a transfer of culture - along with other cultural things such as art, television, films, ideas and beliefs. “But”, I hear you cry, “humpback whales don’t have radios!” No, but they do have the world’s oceans to spread their songs.
Humpback whale songs travel miles through the water and can be picked up by other whales from other populations. An Australian research team listened to recordings of 775 humpback whale songs to find out more about the mysterious ballads.
Male humpback whales sing strange and complicated songs through groans, moans, growls, cries and shrieks. They found that whales repeat ‘phrases’ over and over for up to thirty minutes, just like a repeated verse of a song. All males from the same population or area all the sing the song, but this song is constantly changing.
Using special equipment and technology the research team found that four new songs had come from a whale population in Eastern Australia. Two years later and 6000 km away whales in the middle of the Pacific Ocean were singing the same tune! They believe that whales learn the songs as they hear them during migration.
So just like us humans, whales share and pass on their culture through communication. For the first time ever we have discovered a non-human species which participates in this fast transfer of culture, communicating to one another on a large scale - I wonder what stories they tell?
To hear a whale song for yourself visit ‘TheOceaniaProject’ on You Tube.Read More: Credits