For this week’s “Wildlife A to Z” we share S for “Song”.
The humpback whale song is often heard during mating season so it is believed to play a role in mate selection. These low frequency songs can travel huge distances underwater and can be heard thousands of kilometers away! Baleen whales use the “sound channel”, which is located in deeper water. This channel allows the sounds to propagate through the vast ocean.
The songs were first discovered by a US Navy Engineer working in Bermuda, listening for Russian submarines during the Cold War. He found the songs so incredible that, with a bio-acoustician, Dr Roger Payne, they put the songs on to a record for everyone to hear. The record unexpectedly went multi-platinum and acted as a catalyst for the ‘Save the Whales’ movement. This movement was spurred in the 1970’s when these whales had been hunted almost to extinction by heavy, industrialized commercial whaling through the 19th and 20th centuries.
In recent years here in the Salish Sea we have had a ‘humpback comeback’ with the population making a remarkable recovery. An adult female (Big Mama) was spotted in 1997 and has brought now six calves back into Salish Sea waters; in this time hundreds of other humpbacks have also returned for seasonal feeding (Read more: https://www.pacificwhalewatchassociation.com/…/humpback…). Information: BBC Earth, National Geographic, McGill University, NOAA, WCA, PWWA. .