A Lot to Hear

Guests aboard Monday’s Breakfast with the Whales Cruise got some close up views of a couple different Mom/Baby pods when the little calves decided to get some close-up views of us! There was a lot of breaching and splashing to be seen too, but the surface-active whales stayed on the horizon. Right before we returned to the bay, we got an opportunity to deploy our hydrophone, and what we heard sounded like a symphony. There must have been two or three singers fairly close to us, but the in the background we could hear some really complex sounds, indicating a lot of activity within the range of the microphone. And consider this – even though our microphone picks up sounds from at least 5 miles away, researchers believe that whales can hear sounds from much further. So what we hear is just a fraction of what they hear…whales live in a noisy world rich with singing and vocalizing (for us, perhaps akin to living an entire life inside Aloha Stadium during the Pro Bowl).
Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact of the Day:To our untrained ears, the sounds we hear from our hydrophones sound pretty random, though we have noticed the lack of certain phrases this year that we heard fairly often last year. According to a paper published in the journal Current Biology, it turns out that our ears aren’t so untrained after all. Researchers have documented that the Humpback songs in the South Pacific are actually changing really quickly. Over the last decade, completely new song themes are appearing within a season. The researchers compared the radical evolution of the Humpbacks’ songs to human musical composition, suggesting that the themes are so novel; it’s as if whole new human musical genres were appearing that no one had ever heard just a few years ago.

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