Why Do Whales Sing? Underwater Serenades or Biological Sonar?

November 28, 2008 / 1 Comment

Other than being some of the largest mammals in the seas, whales area also known for their “voices”. Call it the whale song, it’s true that the whales may sing to court mates but not only. The biggest Romeo of them all, is the humpback whale which is known to produce repetitious sounds at varying frequencies. That’s a whale song.

So exactly, why do whales sing?

humpback whale singing Why Do Whales Sing? Underwater Serenades or Biological Sonar?

To Find Juliette. Researchers think that the male humpback whales sing to impress their mates. It’s like a beautiful underwater serenade, that we humans call flirting. Usually, only male humpbacks learn to sing because they’re the ones going after the “ladies” – who expect to get found (kind of like humans, right?). And whale singers put the best on the table.

humpback whales feeding Why Do Whales Sing? Underwater Serenades or Biological Sonar?

As a communication tool. Even though it’s assumed to have an important role in mate selection, the singing is not just to establish identity and dominance before mating. Recent studies concluded that whales use singing more like a general communication tool to keep communities together. And a good example is when migrating. Singing helps navigate new locales and keeps the group together. Scientists also call it echolocation. It’s the biological sonar of most whales.

Imagine yourself underwater, trying to say something to a fellow diver. Unless you have a microphone, you’ll definitely need to make some noise, right?

Now that you know why whales sing, think twice about whaling. It could be Romeo …

Original images courtesy of gwoodford and Peat Bakke


  • http://greenpaks tiffanybowers

    what do humpbackwhales usually eat,what are there usual characteristics about them