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.
Learn how to prepare Enfrijoladas from "No Passport Required."
A Q&A will immediately follow the screening with director Gavin Hood.
Southland law enforcement groups and community organizations today hailed the governor's signing of legislation that redefines when officers and deputies can use deadly force.
A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was fired over domestic violence allegations but rehired after Alex Villanueva was elected sheriff was ordered by a judge today to surrender his badge and gun.
- 1 of 198
- next ›
For decades Los Angeles has lived in the shadows of New York and Chicago when it comes to the jazz, but that's now changing. LA's jazz scene is on the upswing. Meet the people, places and sounds that are putting LA jazz back on the map.
Chopped down trees, unspent money, building homes thirty feet from the freeway: Is the city of Los Angeles falling down on the job when it comes to certain environmental policies? Socal Connected investigates.
California's wildfires are more severe and deadlier than ever before. Debates are raging as to what to do, who will pay for billions of dollars in damage and what can be done to lessen the destruction as California adjusts to its new normal.
Influencers - they are powerful, persuasive, and they are everywhere. You may not know it, but you could be living under the influence.
How hot will your neighborhood get? "SoCal Connected" looks at the ground-level effects of climate change on southern California.
- 1 of 52
- next ›