Catchy Humpback Whale Tunes Become Worldwide Hits
Ever had a song stuck in your head? This seems to happen to humpback whales, too. They pick up and sing the songs of other whales, turning them into pop hits, with whales all over the Pacific Ocean singing them.
Read more at the New York Times.
Researchers recorded 11 humpback whale song types in the South Pacific from 1998 to 2008. They found that each year the songs spread from one group of whales to another through ocean currents, making their way from Australia to French Polynesia. They shared their findings in a recent issue of Current Biology.
Scientists aren’t sure why whale songs become popular, but as with most things in the animal kingdom, it may be related to sex. Only male humpback whales sing, so it is possible that their tunes are ballads for females.
“If you change your song, you stand out,” said Ellen C. Garland, doctoral student at the University of Queensland in Australia and author of the study. “We could speculate that that could be more attractive to the females.”