Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Humpback Hit Parade

Building upon the musical theme of my previous posting, albeit on a happier note (pun intended), a study conducted by graduate students at the University of Queensland, and reported online in Current Biology, reveals that male Humpback Whales within a specific population all sing the same mating song at any given time. (Gosh, you'd think that at least one of these big boys would want to sing his own tune to stand out from the rest of the gang; but then again, perhaps female Humpbacks aren't too particular as long as their prospective mates can carry a tune, any tune.)

The researchers report that these "cultural waves" spread across the ocean as they are copied by whales in other populations, in what amounts to a Humpback hit parade. And just like with their human counterparts, when one song has gained ocean wide popularity a new song will appear to replace it.

As Pan, the little Harbor Porpoise, and co-star of my book, The Tempest's Roar, might say, "Pleases us. Pleases us," because to him, whalesong is the most beautiful sound any sentient being can hear on this tiny blue space marble that we call Earth but whales know as Planet Ocean.

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