Whale Songs | KCET
Why do whales sing? Could it have something to do with breeding, or feeding, or navigation — or is it just a simple longing to communicate? All of those are theories, but scientists don't seem to have reached a consensus.
These underwater giants make all sorts of sounds, from clicks, grunts and squeaks to sustained, otherworldly melodies.
According to research biologist John Calambokidis, blue whales make two distinct calls.
"A" call of the blue whale (Mark McDonald / Whale Acoustics) with sea lions in the background
...while the "B" call is a low frequency hum barely registered by human ears...
A third sound, the "D" call, is described by ocean acoustician Mark A. McDonald as a "non-song communicative" call...
What researches call a whale song is a sequence of these sounds that can last 20 minutes. Male humpbacks in particular will repeat the same song over and over again for hours.
In fact, it's probably the humpback's song that people are most familiar with, thanks to the album "Songs of the Humpback Whale," originally released more than 40 years ago and still available on CD.
All of the whales in one region will sing the same song, but the song changes over time. Researchers are currently puzzling over a mysterious drop of pitch in the songs of the blue whale. A study cited in Wired Magazine says the pitch is now 31 percent lower than it was in the late sixties, and the change is worldwide, not just in one region. One possible explanation is that the whales had to sing at a higher pitch decades ago when the population was at its lowest point because of whaling. The higher-pitched song traveled farther in the water. Now, with the numbers increasing, their songs don't have to reach as far to be heard by another blue whale.
If you want to spend even more time listening to whale sounds, Scientific American's Whale Song Project wants you. Go to Whale.fm for an online experiment in crowdsourcing that asks for the public's help in figuring out what whales are saying. It asks you to listen to various whale calls and put the ones that sound alike into groups. A recent NPR story has more details on the project.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators began the arduous -- and likely months-long -- task today of determining what caused the Calabasas helicopter crash that killed him and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter.
Here are five of the lesser-known historic sites that are within a stone’s throw of El Camino Real – and just as historic as the missions that it once connected.
For better, or for worse, Kobe Bryant was ours. The MVP delivered five championships, five parades and more importantly, an immeasurable supply of memories that I and the rest of Los Angeles will undoubtedly cherish forever.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and eight other people, including one of Bryant's daughters, were killed today when a helicopter crashed along a hillside in Calabasas. Bryant was 41.
- 1 of 233
- next ›
State and local regulators are overwhelmed and outgunned when it comes to closing down California’s poisonous pot pipeline.
Parents are willing to spend thousands to get the competitive edge in the college admissions process, but at what cost? Socal Connected takes a revealing look at the high stakes world of the for-profit education consultant business.
Socal Connected looks at what happened to LA Jets’ Obea Moore and the current state of youth track and field today.
An investigation reveals how the state and many cities have let developers get away for decades with not paying their fair share when they replace affordable lodging with luxury hotels up and down California’s coast.
A Humboldt town is polarized over allegations of racism and police incompetence surrounding the death of college student Josiah Lawson.
- 1 of 53
- next ›