Radical New Music Courtesy of Humpbacks


Our March 30th Whale Watch Cruises were really spectacular. On our 8:00 Wake Up with the Whales Cruise, we saw 8 different humpbacks within about 1000 yards of us. But while we were sitting, watching them in all directions, we heard sounds echoing up through the hulls, There was a singer very close by — so close we didn’t even need to deploy our hydrophone to hear him. But of course once we listened without the hydrophone, we wanted to hear the sounds even more clearly, so we dropped our microphone and this is what we heard: CLICK HERE. Very unique sounds…more like an aviary than a whale…While we were listening, two very big mature whales surfaced right next to the boat and swam around us — not once, but twice!
On our 10:00 Signature Whale Watch on Alala, as soon as we left the harbor, we saw some splashes to the south. So we took a turn to the left and found a pod of Spinner Dolphins. This pod was moving south fairly quickly and directly. They didn’t come to the boat, but we all saw lots of jumps and spins from this very active pod. After watching them for awhile, we saw the tell-tale spouts of Humpbacks, so we headed back north to what we thought was a pod of Mom and baby. Eventually, we figured out there were three whales in the pod when the escort surfaced too. As we watched, baby cycled between periods of activity and periods of quiet. While he was active we saw lots of tail lobs and little peduncle throws…and then he would tire out and dive down to mom. We got to see the flukes from all three of these whales — Mom and the Escort had strikingly white flukes, and baby had a definite black border around the white on his flukes. We finally had to turn back and head towards the harbor…that’s when baby started breaching and breaching and breaching.
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 — similar to the emergence of rockabilly in the 1950’s or hip hop in the 1970’s.

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