The Songs of Humpback Whales
Nature is endlessly fascinating...
1) Whales are musicians: Humpbacks have a range that covers eight octaves, from a bass so low that humans can't hear it to a magnificent soprano. Their highly structured songs include multiple themes that are constantly repeated and even rhyme. The whales embellish like jazz musicians, seeing who can improvise in some attractive way better than the other whale. Aside from attracting mates, singing is also believed to establish a hierarchy among male humpbacks. (Acoustic monitoring on a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) feeding ground shows continual singing into late spring, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences Volume 271, Number 1543 / May 22, 2004)
2) Whales have been found to sing in dialects. Blue whales off the Pacific Northwest sound different than blue whales in the western Pacific Ocean, and these sound different than those living off Antarctica. And they all sound different than the blue whales living near Chile. (Jan 2006 issue of BioScience)
3) Whalesong has grammar! During mating season, which lasts six months, all humpback males sing the same song to woo the ladies. Over time, the group's song becomes progressively more complex, although researchers don't know quite why. Presumably, as one whale finds mating success by tinkering with the song style, the rest of the guys imitate it to better their chances, said study co-author Ryuji Suzuki, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral fellow.Mathematical analysis of the whale song shows there are complex grammatical rules. Using syntax, the whales combine sounds into phrases, which they further weave into hours-long melodies packed with information. (Suzuki et al, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, March 2006.)