The blue whales are singing a low key
The Blue Whale is the largest living mammal in existence today. This Gentle giant has been hunted almost to near extinction by man. The United Nations, in response to the near total extermination of this species, implemented strict measures to ensure that the Blue whale would not disappear from the face of the planet. The population of the Blue whale was said to have been in the hundreds of thousands, but because of rampant Whaling, their global population was dramatically reduced to about a few thousand in the 1960’s. Their decrease in numbers made some scientists and experts devote their time to study the habits of this wondrous creature to help the species recover from their huge drop in numbers. The studies were aimed in acquiring knowledge about the habits of the species. The considerable efforts exerted by scientists were not in vain. They eventually found out some surprising revelations about the Blue whale. One Whale acoustics researcher, Mark McDonald, disclosed that they have noticed an unusual pattern concerning the Blue Whale’s vocal pitches. According to McDonald, the “voices” of the whale have considerably dipped to more than half an octave in terms of frequency in comparison to the recorded pitches made on the 1960’s. This finding was said to be accidental.
This discovery was made when Mark MacDonald was attempting to track the movement of a certain group of whales using data from submarine detectors. For this tracking endeavor, He and his team created a program that filters out the shrill tunes emitted by the whales. They compiled these tunes annually and when a comparison was made they discovered that the sounds emitted by these mammals have dropped progressively throughout the years. The accuracy of this discovery was authenticated when the team used earlier blue whale recordings to compare with the latest ones in their possession. John Hildebrand, an oceanographer, was instrumental in this discovery since it was he who secured the old recordings of the Blue whale tunes. Hildebrand and McDonald’s team compared the tunes emitted by these animals during the “Beach Boys’ era and the present times and discovered that the older recordings were distinctly higher pitched than the present recordings. It was later found out by researchers that the Present population of Blue Whales are indeed showing a steady decline with regards to the frequency levels of their tunes.
A number of theories concerning this phenomenon surfaced. Some of these theories pointed out that the decrease in pitch frequency may be attributed to either Warmer Temperatures, Acidic seas, a “fad in Whale culture”, increase in the population density of the whales worldwide and evolution of their mating calls to attract the opposite sex. Of course, all of these theories are mere hypothesis because the Blue Whale is a rare and very shy creature of the deep. As of the moment additional information is still being gathered to explain the mystery behind the Blue Whale’s dropping voice.
Leuvy, J (2010). Blue Whales are singing in a lower key. Retrieved from the World wide web on May 27, 2010. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2010/02/blue-whales-are-singing-in-a-lower-key.html