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Whale Song Patterns That Can Predict Migration

Through the use of two advanced audio recording technologies, researches from Monterey Bay found that blue whales switch from nighttime to daytime singing when starting to migrate.

The blue whale is the largest animal on earth, and its also among the loudest!

Sound is a vital mode of communication in the ocean environment, especially over long distances,” said William Oestreich, a graduate student at Stanford University.

Although whale songs have been studied for decades, researchers have had limited success in deciphering their meaning.

Now, by recording individual whales as well as their greater populations, researches from Stanford and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) have identified patterns in the trills and bellows of blue whales.

These indicate when the animals are migrating from their feeding grounds off the North American coast to their breeding grounds of Central America.

“We decided to compare daytime and nighttime song patterns from month to month, and there, in the divergence and convergence of two lines, was this beautiful signal that neither of us really expected,” said John Ryan of MBARI.

The blue whale migration is a 4,000-mile journey and ranks among the longest in the world.

To capture whales singing solo and in a chorus, the researchers used two advanced recording technologies. This was deposited 18 miles off the Monterey coast and 3,000 feet under sea level.

WATCH: Whales and dolphins playing together!

By focusing on the whale song wavelengths in the hydrophone data, the researchers noticed a distinct change over several months. Through the summers, the whale arias grew louder and were sung mostly at nighttime.

This research lays the groundwork for possibly predicting blue whale migration based on the transitions between the different song schedules

These forecasts could be used to warn shipping lanes further down the coast, like air traffic control but for the ocean.

Written by Joe Kahlo

After years of writing in the financial industry, Joe was finally able to focus his writing on what he loves, Animals!