Humpback whales are such incredible creatures. They are not just a ‘typical’ whale and here is why!
Australian humpback whales communicate further than any other whale on earth. Their whale sounds have been researched extensively for years and, more recently, their social sounds, have shown some incredible findings.
Most people learn that humpback whales communicate through song however they are much more intelligent than first thought. Social sounds are comprised of two types of sounds: vocal calls and sounds produced by surface behaviours.
Australian humpback whales have such a variation of vocal sounds; at least 34 different ones have been recorded. These noises range from low frequency (snort like) to high frequency (similar to a bird chirp) and are believed to be used in different contexts. It is quite amazing they have such a vast range of sounds considering they have no vocal cords.
It is believed that whales use these vocal variations to communicate with other members of the group, such as a mother calling to her baby, or to signal locations of other whales.
Occurring every year on their northerly migration to Queensland’s coastal waters, male humpback wales use a complex series of repeated vocal patterns. This is performed for longer distances and up to 30 minutes at a time. Song-like indications are most regularly used for mate selection.
Surface behaviours include breaching, lobtailing and fin slapping. Breaching is when a whale jumps high out of the water and then slaps the sea as they come back down. These sounds can be heard both above and below the water.
Humpback whales are also known to stick their tail out of the water, swing it around, and then slap it on the ocean’s surface. This is called lobtailing and makes a very loud sound. Both of these actions signify something to other humpback whales, though researchers are yet to distinguish exactly what the purpose may be.
It is believed lobtailing and flipper slapping may be vital communication performed as a warning to the rest of the pod.
Research is continues on these giant ocean creatures. With new discoveries and understandings occurring regularly, the Australian humpback whales are constantly surprising humans with their communication abilities.
Humans often find whale sounds calming and magically intriguing, but there’s so much more we have to learn about what whales are really trying to say!