Image of the Day: Change of Tune

Southeast Alaska’s humpback whales haven’t changed their calls for close to four decades.

Oct 1, 2018
Sukanya Charuchandra

A humpback whale preparing for a dive in Frederick Sound, Southeast Alaska
MICHELLE FOURNET

The humpback whales of Southeast Alaska haven’t altered their calls for 36 years, while their songs, which are patterned vocalizations unlike the single note delivered by a call, have been dynamic. The researchers compared recordings from the 1970s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s and suggest the constancy of whale calls may be due to a role in group dynamics, just as ever-changing whale songs may be significant for the purposes of mating. Their findings were published September 27 in Scientific Reports.

M. Fournet et al., “Some things never change: multidecadal stability in humpback whale calling repertoire on Southeast Alaskan foraging grounds,” Sci Rep-UK, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-31527-x, 2018.