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Worldwide Change in Blue Whale's Song Baffles Scientists

Blue-whale

The function of whale song, even the better-studied song of the humpback whale, has long baffled marine scientists. Songs of the blue whale, the planets largest living creature, can be divided into at least 10 types worldwide, each type retaining the same units and similar phrasing over decades, unlike humpback whale song which changes substantially from year to year. That is until recently with a  worldwide occurrence of a nearly linear downward shift in the tonal frequencies of blue whale song.

“We don’t have the answer. We just have a lot of recordings,” Whale Acoustics President Mark McDonald explained to Wired. The company specializes in analyzing the cetaceans with sonic monitoring networks and ships. Their recordings are grist for experts hoping to unravel this mystery. “It’s a fascinating finding. It’s even more remarkable, given that the songs themselves differ in different oceans. There seem to be these distinct populations, yet they’re all showing this common shift,” Cascadia Research Collective blue-whale expert John Calombokidis adds. 

Historical acoustic recordings dating back as faras the 1960s were examined, measuring the tonal frequencies of 1000s of blue whale songs. Within a given year, individuals match the song frequency (related to ‘pitch’ in musical nomenclature) to within less than 3%. 

The best documented song type, that observed offshore of California, USA, now is sung at a frequency 31% lower than it was in the 1960s. Data available for 7 of the world’s 10 known song types show they are all shifting downward in frequency, though at different rates. 

Limited observations of singing blue whales suggest usage patterns different from those of humpback whale song and are even more difficult to explain. All singers for which sex has been determined have been males, although both sexes produce non-song calls . Singers have always been found to be traveling at relatively high speed, whereas non-song calls are commonly produced by milling or feeding blue whales 

Theories as to why this isa occuring include  sexual selection, increasing ocean noise, increasing whale body size post whaling, global warming, interference from other animal sounds and post-whaling era increases in abundance. None of the commonly suggested hypotheses were found to provide a full explanation; however, increasing population size post whaling provides an intriguing and testable hypothesis that recovery is altering the sexually selected tradeoff for
singing males between song amplitude (the ability to be heard at a greater distance) and song
frequency (the ability to produce songs of lower pitch).

Casey Kazan

Image: 


Doc White/Naturerepl.com
http://www.int-res.com/articles/esr2009/9/n009p013.pdf
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/blue-whale-song-mystery/

Comments

this brief description from"CArl Sagan,PBS 1980's Cosmos series."Car reported,that made machines make a ot water disburance at twenty hertz,when is bandwith that Humback whaes, comunicate.he suggested that hundred years ago,humback whaes could communicate severa thousand mies in oceans deep.today,twenty first century,humback whalies can ony communicates a few tens of miles in ocean water.aso,car reported,that whales make thre ah sound,would continue with three ah's sound,picking up where they eft off.i beieve Ted Turner purchased the video series "Cosmos"1989.i think dvd now.


I like how "global warming" is cited as a possible reason. Jesus, is everything nowadays linked to global warming? I might as well say it's because of 2012 coming up and the whales no the end is near!!!

Seriously, considering what's going on with the emails that were leaked, global warming is the least of the plausible explanations.


And no, I can't spell know

They're singing 'So long and thanks for all the plankton'. By the way, just because it was colder than usual in North america in 2008 doesn't mean global warming isn't happening. See NOAA website. As for e-mails, a few childish silly remarks don't cancel out years of evidence from vast numbers of institutions. Let's put it this way. 90% of climatologists say the earth is warming and we're to blame. Now say you go the the airport and 10 engineers say the plane's safe and 90 engineers say it's going to crash. Are you flying or not? Your choice.

Perhaps Whale 'singing' is but a celebration of a communication that was sent and received on another level.

Actually Global Warming is not unique to Earth but includes a systemic rise in temp's on all planets in our solar system.
Much disinformation is actively being put out to try to discredit the effects of our solar systems path, which moves in a wave pattern and takes our entire system through the Galactic Plane every so often. I strongly urge doubters to investigate the true nature of global warming. What you will find may cause you to lose faith in your so-called leaders?

Investigate it for yourself. I too once believed this Carbon Credit Hoax of the first Carbon Billionaire, Al Gore.

".. just because it was colder than usual in North america in 2008 doesn't mean global warming *IS* happening." Just because they doctored the data to force conclusions to fit their ideas, after having destroyed the original data, doesn't mean global warming isn't happening eh? Just because Hockey Stick Mann has decided it's now 'scientifically' correct to call the Medieval Warm Period the Medieval Anomaly doesn't mean isn't happening? I mean even after he went though the trouble smearing out the temperature range by selectively assigning specific temperature values to rather vague temperature ranges gained from tree rings, ice cores, etc. Funny how the temps he assigned just happened to smooth out MWP and force the, now, corrupted data up. But that doesn't mean AGW isn't happening does it? All your ideologue mind can wrap itself around is the talking points your masters give you.
All evidence is 'childish' if it doesn't fit your view. I am surprised you can allow that 10% of scientist have a different view especially when your masters say ALL scientist agree. I think back to the reeducation camp for you. Now! The longer you stay out the more likely it is you'll see the contradiction of those "childish" e-mails discussing ways of excluding dissenting voices and your claim of what 90% say. What if it is YOU who are being lied to? What if it is much less than 90%? Does it matter to you? Is it ideology or truth you are after?

Al Gore is not a "carbon Billionair". Every sent he has made off his book, movie, and Nobel price has been donated to help the environment. It's always the people that do nothing in life that criticize the people that try.

Climate Change deniers p0wned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nnVQ2fROOg&feature=player_embedded

Clearly, those who are deniers believe in conspiracies, are blatantly anti-science, and are exactly like the far right supporters of the GOP in the US (eg, they think a man in the sky guides their actions, that this skyman killed his 'son' to redeem mankind, that witch doctors are good enough - or that prayer is good enough, hate all things science because it hurts their brain, etc, etc).

Oh, and this whole climate change denial is a uniquely US phenomenon. UNIQUELY. That's because the deniers have a loud mouthpiece and take advantage of our media saturation.

i am looking for what is currently happening to the blue whales and nothing shows up i have a paper due tomorrow shouldn't of waited till the last day this sucks.

Vis a vis "recovery is altering the sexually selected tradeoff for
singing males between song amplitude..." "... and song
frequency", that almost sounds like females are choosing males based on aesthetic criteria-as a sound engineer and sometime musician I find that fascinating.

On the other hand, it might be worth noting in this context that lower frequencies travel further and "wider" than higher frequencies (longer wavelengths are more likely to get around corners for example, are less prone to diffusion etc). So mere broadcasting ability (possibly due to a larger vibrating body) could well come into this sexual selection argument.

Maybe if the frequency range drops low enough for us to be able to detect and inspect the entire harmonic of whale song.....we may be able to translate the 'songs' and better understand the whales themselves, and what they sing about.

Hi,

I'd like to republish this story on our new newspaper, The Agora.
We are an open source paper which prints 10,000 issues on a bi-weekly basis.
Please check out our site and get back to me.
This was a fascinating article.

r
ryanfoster@theagoranational.ca
www.TheAgoraNational.ca

Yes the sun has been heating up. For those people who think that the sun is the sole cause of global warming - please get a clue. The sun heating up does not undo the fact that carbon dioxide and other green house emissions also heat up the earth, acidify our oceans, etc.

Yes Carbon Credit hoax is just another ploy for your money by people who already posses enough of it. And the pitiful polarizing propaganda against global warming is championed by the same category of people.

In case you haven't figured it out at this stage of your life. Multiple things can be true at the same time.

The blue whale is the largest animal, but the honor of the world's largest living being must go to the Sequoia Gigantea or Sequoia Sempervirens trees.

A new report from the BBC 12/12/2009 explained the reason the Humpback whale songs are getting deeper. Deep sea skeet shooting. Yes, as hard as it is to believe it seems the Humpback whales are into some serious deep sea skeet shooting and all those underwater shotgun blasts have caused a bit of machismo "who needs ear plugs" between the younger Humpbacks and unfortunately a bit of basso profundo singing that all ways happens when ever guns, beer and Humpback whales get together.

Why has no one mentioned that this could be due to the fact that the planet's magnetosphere has been changing? Whales use the magnetic lines of the Earth to navigate. Perhaps the weakening field is somehow related to their changing song?

Humpback whales are the noisiest and most imaginative whales when it comes to songs. They have long, varied, complex, eerie, and beautiful songs that include recognizable sequences of squeaks, grunts, and other sounds. The songs have the largest range of frequencies used by whales, ranging from 20-9,000 Hertz. Only males have been recorded singing. They sing the complex songs only in warm waters, perhaps used for mating purposes. In cold waters, they make rougher sounds, scrapes and groans, perhaps used for locating large masses of krill (the tiny crustaceans that they eat).

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I am looking for what is currently happening to the blue whales and nothing shows up i have a paper due tomorrow shouldn't of waited till the last day this sucks.

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Hi,

I'd like to republish this story on our new newspaper, The Agora.
We are an open source paper which prints 10,000 issues on a bi-weekly basis.
Please check out our site and get back to me.

I'd like to republish this story on our new newspaper, The Agora.
We are an open source paper which prints 10,000 issues on a bi-weekly basis.
Please check out our site and get back to me.

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