Whale Songs

 

Whale watchers along the Gold Coast and Brisbane coastline are usually lucky enough to be treated to a male humpback’s singing. While both male and female whales make social sounds, it is only the males that can sing.

Whales in Paradise report that these social sounds include snores, coughs, squeaks, rumbles and blows. They can be heard both on board Gold Coast Whale Watching vessels and below the water’s surface with a hydrophone.

A male humpback will only sing while underwater holding its breath. In correlation to it fitness, downtime can range from eight minutes to an hour.

In this downtime the male humpback will usually suspend itself at 15 to 21 meters with its head down and tail up. Gold Coast and Brisbane whale watchers will notice that they will stay relatively motionless apart from a gentle movement of their pectoral fins. 

The singing of a male humpback can be heard from kilometers away with the latest underwater listening device: hydrophones. Scientists have calculated that males are more likely to sing during nighttime than in the day. 

The song of the Humpback is a complex sequence of many sounds, which can be repeated over and over again for up to 20 minutes at once.

The whales that migrate to the Gold Coast for breeding season every year will sing a different song to those around the world. However, all the males within the population will sing the same song passed on from one whale to another. 

While humpback whales will always begin each season in the waters of the Gold Coast singing the same song as they did at the end of the last season, Whales in Paradise whale watching crew has reported slight changes in the song by the end of their time along Queensland’s coastline.

These changes in the sequence and structure of their songs will eventually evolve over a number of years to create a whole new song.