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Blue Whale Song Mystery Baffles Scientists

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posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 12:23 PM
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December 02, 2009
The largest animals on Earth are singing in ever-deeper voices every year. Among the suggested explanations are ocean noise pollution, changing population dynamics and new mating strategies. But none of them is entirely convincing.

“We don’t have the answer. We just have a lot of recordings,” said Mark McDonald, president of Whale Acoustics, a company that specializes in the sonic monitoring of cetaceans.

McDonald and his collaborators first noticed the change eight years ago, when they kept needing to recalibrate the automated song detectors used to track blue whales off the California coast. The detectors are triggered by songs that match a particular waveform. Every year, McDonald had to set them lower.

Since then, he and Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers Sarah Melnick and John Hildebrand have gathered thousands of blue whale recordings made since the 1960s, spanning populations from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific to the East Indian Ocean. Their analysis, published in October in Endangered Species Research, shows that the songs’ tonal frequency is falling every year by a few fractions of a hertz.


www.wired.com...


All around the world, blue whales aren’t singing like they used to, and scientists have no idea why.



Shouldn't be a big mystery when the Navy is using Sonar, it does effect these beautiful animals.




posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 12:32 PM
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I LOVE CETACEANS!!!

Anyway, wow. Very interesting, had no idea this was going on. I think it might only be Blues, though, because where I work we are studying the acoustics of finbacks and humpbacks and there haven't been any significant mysterious changes or anything like that. I wonder how many institutions are reporting these changes in acoustics.

If it is just blue whales, it may be some sort of evolution, and you very well may be right that it is in order to compete with the sounds from sonar, especially if the whales are having trouble communicating due to sonar interference (which is probably true). This could, in theory, assist the whales in finding mates and even prevent stranding.

We can only hope, right?

[edit on 12/3/2009 by ravenshadow13]



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 12:39 PM
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its obviously a countdown to 2012.... when the dolphins leave in their spaceships and earth is demolished for a galactic bypass.

A hitchhikers guide to the galaxy WAS disclosure. lolz



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 12:51 PM
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There are also some interesting and informative links at the link on my openning post, check them out.



www.wired.com...


[edit on 3-12-2009 by Aquarius1]



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 01:36 PM
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reply to post by ravenshadow13
 


I thought of the exact same thing when reading the op. A form of evolution, so sonar frequencies won't interfere with their mating calls and so on anymore.

But then I realised, sonar frequencies interfere with dolphins' and other "tooth whales" own sonar system, the echolocation. This supposedly caused a lot of strandings and can even affect the whales physically (bleeding from ears and eyes).

BUT. Blue whales don't use echolocation. Their songs are used for communicating with each other, and doesn't that mean that the sounds they make have a different wave length than the ones other whales use for echolocation and the ones used by sonars? Well I'm no expert, I'm just asking.

In any case, I hope this is indeed an adaptation of the whales, which would mean they're evolving and surviving. I would hate to see the whales gone.

[edit on 3-12-2009 by Wallachian]



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 01:49 PM
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Well, lower frequencies travel further than higher one, so maybe there less of them and/or they are just further apart and need the lower frequency to reach others of their species.



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 02:17 PM
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reply to post by IrvingTheExplainer
 


That's not what the article says...


Another explanation involves the recovery of blue whale populations, which were nearly hunted to extinction during the first half of the last century. It’s only since hunting ceased that they’ve been recorded. Maybe songs were higher-pitched when recording started, because the whales had to sing extra-loud in order to reach their scattered brethren. Now that there are more, they can lower their voices and their pitch.


However, I don't believe what the article says, that the whale population has increased so much, plus it doesn't make any sense: lower pitch means lower frequency means longer wave length means sound can travel farther, right?



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 02:37 PM
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Question is, what are they singing? So long and thanks for all the fish? Look out for very big, yellow, brick like, spaceships hovering over the earth any day now. The by-pass plans have been on display on Alpha Centauri for years ......



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 05:58 PM
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Had to post another picture of these beautiful creatures.




posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 06:11 PM
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I think the obvious answer is that they are really smart and they are simply changing their language to accommodate being able to continue communication through all the noise pollution. Same as you or I raising our voices in a crowded bar for example.

Just a guess, but allot of these creatures are just as bright as you and I, maybe brighter....

Understanding what they are saying I think is incredibly vital...

We quest for alien intelligence but it's already floating around in our oceans



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 06:22 PM
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reply to post by mopusvindictus
 


Agreed that they are not only intelligent but more so then us, I hope one day to swim with the Dolphins, my young grandchildren swam with them last year in Miami and still talk about it.



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 09:37 PM
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This reminds me of a small piece written by Jim Marrs in You Are Still Being Lied To. The article, titled "What's Missing From This Picture?", is about missing evidence and it's ramifications in controversial topics. Near the end he mentions two marine biologists who discovered that blue whales were changing their song collectively every year and somehow every whale seemed to be aware of the change, and adjusted it's own song accordingly. He doesnt mention pitch, but this does sound related.

Wish I had a link to it.



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 09:55 PM
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reply to post by RoboKy
 


Thanks for reminding me of Jim Marrs, I remember reading that in his book...missing evidence huh, couldn't be now could it.



posted on Dec, 3 2009 @ 09:56 PM
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Thanks for the post. Maybe they are changing key



posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 04:14 AM
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I am quite confident that this has nothing to do with evolution.

Blue whales reach sexual maturity around 8-10 years of age, and are then pregnant around a year. This gives us around 4 generations at best, since the recordings were started, and this is not nearly enough to have had an evolutionary effect I believe, since the changes are so clear. Also, the population size (5.000-12.000 per 2002 - Wikipedia) is not small enough to accomodate such an elaborate evolution pressure that has this profound effect in such few generations.


What else it could be.. I have no idea. Sound pollution sounds strange, since there wouldn't be much of that out at deep sea I assume.

[edit on 4/12/09 by Thain Esh Kelch]



posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 04:53 AM
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I have no comment on the topic per-say other then its interesting.

Originally posted by Aquarius1
Agreed that they are not only intelligent but more so then us, I hope one day to swim with the Dolphins, my young grandchildren swam with them last year in Miami and still talk about it.

But I did want to mention something about this.
I love dolphins as much as the next person, maybe more being a diver, but…

People tend to think that dolphins are smart and friendly because of the upturn in their mouth that resembles a human smile. They are very powerful, playful, and aggressive making them dangerous. They are nowhere as intelligent as humans, IMHO maybe more akin to a dogs level of intelligence, playfulness, and willingness to be trained by humans. When acting aggressive, dolphins will attack humans, sharks, and even pick on weaker dolphins. I have seen where a dolphin had to be quarantined because two others kept bullying it to the point of serious injury. They often think everything is a toy, including humans, and have no idea that a 200lb human is no match for their 500+lbs of muscle when they decide to play with that human (so much for the being smarter then a human). Being a diver, I have dove in several locations where we were allowed to get right up close to the sharks, but were kept away from the dolphins due to the reasons mentioned above.

You ever see a dolphin jump?
Imagine one landing on you and taking you straight to the bottom, because it thinks it's fun. This is why the few locations, here in FL, that allow people to interact with dolphins usually keep a one to one ratio between guest, handler, and dolphin (one dolphin per handler, and one or maybe two guests). They usually use shallow water for these encounters, not only because it’s convenient for the guests, but more importantly to keep the dolphins from being able to pick up speed, jump, or act up in other ways. I would certainly be cautious allowing children to be around them.

If you go have a great time, and I don’t mean to scare you or anything, but I did want to mention that because a lot of folks get these preconceived false notions about dolphins based on things they have seen on TV, and they can be dangerous especially out in the open ocean.

Edit to add:
As to intelligence, personally I think Cephalopods are the most intelligent thing in the ocean that we are aware of…

The Seaquarium in Miami Florida had a display of Florida lobsters. The lobsters kept vanishing and the manager thought, perhaps, one of the employees was making off with them. Or maybe somebody was sneaking in over the fence at night and stealing them. The Night watchman himself was one of the suspects and was determined to catch the thief if only to clear himself. Again and again the lobsters vanished but he couldn't catch anyone doing it. One night he went about his rounds as normal and then slipped back into the main display area and waited. After 30 minutes he thought he saw something happening in the lobster tank and he turned on all the lights. A big octopus was in the lobster tank. The watchman ran around to the walkway above the tanks and as he entered the area he saw the octopus lugging its captive lobster along the walkway, hell bent for its own tank. When they checked the octopus tank they found the empty shells of the stolen lobsters buried under the rocks. Octopus can obviously learn new tricks all by themselves.

If they lived longer then a year, we would probably be in trouble.



[edit on 12/4/2009 by defcon5]



posted on Dec, 4 2009 @ 08:33 AM
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There was a similar story a few months ago about an octopus that unscrewed the drain plug on a tank and flooded an entire aquarium area.

Cephalopods are quite amazing.



posted on Dec, 6 2009 @ 07:47 PM
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Originally posted by mopusvindictus
I think the obvious answer is that they are really smart and they are simply changing their language to accommodate being able to continue communication through all the noise pollution. Same as you or I raising our voices in a crowded bar for example.

Just a guess, but allot of these creatures are just as bright as you and I, maybe brighter....

Understanding what they are saying I think is incredibly vital...

We quest for alien intelligence but it's already floating around in our oceans



The only thing about the noise pollution theory...hasn't that drastically decreased the past two years due to the Recession? Shipping was slammed extremely hard by the economic downturn, so if the whales were lowering their voices to somehow overcome human traffic, you'd think they would have stabilized or increased in pitch when oceanic traffic died down.



posted on Dec, 6 2009 @ 08:55 PM
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i know these are blue whales but dident cap kirk fly back in time for a mateing pair of humpbacks as if the song wasnt heard the alien probe will destroy earth




[edit on 12/6/2009 by dashar]



posted on Dec, 7 2009 @ 08:27 AM
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Originally posted by Thain Esh Kelch
What else it could be.. I have no idea. Sound pollution sounds strange, since there wouldn't be much of that out at deep sea I assume.


PLEASE don't quote me, but I read somewhere that a group of scientists theorised that before humans took to the water whale song would have travelled throughout the water for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Then we came along and drowned it out with sonar and engines etc. I'll try and see if I can find anything relating to it, but I believe the ever lowering song is a way of compensating for the now noisy waters.
And don't forget water is a pretty good conductor for sound.

Can you imagine a world where whale song echoed throughout the ocean? Just going to the beach, plunging into the water and being surrounded by the beautiful sound of whales?



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