Can Blue Whales Sing the Blues?

New research suggest that the songs of blue whales are becoming deeper. In in 1962, John Hildebrand found that the frequency of call was around 22Hz, below the range of our hearing, but last year had decreased to 15Hz. Hildebrand explains that frequency comes at a tradeoff with volume. He suggests the choice is conscious between a really loud song or one that will go really deep.

Why the change?

As their numbers have slowly increased after the devastation caused by whaling, they are having to communicate over smaller distances so their songs don’t need to be as loud and they can make them deeper.

Also of interest is that regional dialects in whale song exist. Those in the southern oceans tend to have a bit of twang and slower song, peppered with ya’ll, than there northern counterparts.

Of course all this discussion of Blues Whale got me thinking about one of my favorite all times bluesmen, John Lee Hooker. A little Tupelo below the fold.


Dr. M (1605 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





4 comments on “Can Blue Whales Sing the Blues?
  1. This is a good thing, as the higher-frequency whale distress call would have eventually (somehow) penetrated the vacuum of space and beckoned their angry extra-terrestrial brethren to earth, forcing the crew of the USS Enterprise to travel back to the 80s for a lame schtick about “nuclear wessels.”

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