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Communication is such an important part of life – for everything. Communication allows us to express our feelings, tell someone how much we care, problem solve, and even call for help. Without the ability to communicate, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
And communication isn’t just for humans; it exists for all animals. The cool thing about it, too, is that every animal has their own unique way of communicating, including whales. But how exactly do whales communicate? And what do whales sound like? Good questions, ‘cause we’ve got the answers!
Although body language is common, whales mainly communicate with each other through noise. These sounds typically vary depending on the type of whale. However, sound isn’t used for just communication; it’s also used for echolocation, a form of navigation and understanding of surroundings underwater. Basically, whales will emit sound waves that will bounce off certain objects, giving an accurate depiction of the shape of the object and the distance between them. This is great for locating food and discovering any potential nearby threats.
So, what sounds do whales make? Well, sounds vary depending on the type of whale. Toothed whales typically create higher-frequency sounds such as clicks and whistles. These clicks are generally used for echolocation and communication; it also helps whales tell each other apart. Just like how we have our own distinct way of speaking, each whale has a distinct frequency and pitch. Cool, right! As for what they sound like, their whistles and calls closely resemble squeaks.
As for baleen whales such as the humpback, they make lower-frequency sounds. These sounds are iconically referred to as songs, or whale songs. Melodic in nature and rhythmically produced, these songs closely resemble human musical composition. And although slightly ominous, they sound beautiful.
As for why whales sing, we aren’t 100% sure, although scientists believe that songs are mainly used for navigation, communication, and selection of potential mates. Since only males sing, songs help communicate to females their fit for candidacy. It also lets other males know that they’re exclusive– sort of like marking their territory.
If you’re wanting to increase your chances of hearing one of these songs live, you’ll want to stick around for mating season. You won’t have to worry about being too far either, as these sounds can travel for miles.
In addition to chemical pollution, noise pollution also serves as a great danger to whales. This type of pollution is often categorized as noise from ship engines, underwater explosions, and military sonar. It affects whales’ communication and navigation – key aspects of survival. In severe cases, noise pollution can lead to hemorrhages and even death.
Currently, noise pollution isn’t really regulated. And although more research may need to be performed to more accurately determine how dangerous it actually is, it’s safe to assume (and propose) that regulations should be established to reduce the amount of noise produced.
Want to see the world’s most beautiful creatures up close? Looking for something exciting to do in Southern California? Then join Harbor Breeze on one of our whale watching tours! With locations in both Long Beach and Los Angeles, we offer visitors front-row tickets to the coolest sea performances in the world. In addition to whales, you might see dolphins, sea lions, and other amazing marine animals. Visit our site to learn more and to book a tour today! And who knows, maybe you’ll get to hear a whale song!