Humpback whales changing their tunes, study finds
A humpback whale breaches off Australia.
April 15th, 2011
01:34 PM ET

Humpback whales changing their tunes, study finds

Whether to keep up with keep up the coolest tunes or to stand out from the crowd, male humpback whales change their songs over time, researchers in Australia report.

Researchers had known that male humpbacks sing as part of courtship and mating behaviors. Now they think the whales may be mixing up their playlist to show off.

“We believe the song is continually changing because the males wish to be novel or slightly different to the male singing next to them," Ellen Garland, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland, said in a news release.

Other times, the whales may be picking up a tune they've heard before, sort of a sub-Pacific top 40.

“The way whales change their song can be compared to how humans follow fashion trends – someone starts a new trend, and before you know it, everyone starts wearing the same thing," Garland said.

The whale tunes move eastward across the Pacific, starting off in Australia and spreading to French Polynesia, according to the study.

“I noticed that the songs moved quite rapidly through the six populations, usually taking two years to spread all the way across the region,” Garland said.

The observed pattern and scope of cultural change is "unmatched in non-human culture," according to the university's news release.

The whales were studied over an 11-year period. The full study is published in the journal Current Biology.

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Filed under: Animals • Australia • Nature • Whales
soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. John

    She didn't do it today you never asked her politly you shouted at her and it was your mistake and she said she didn't know. You got trolled today and so did she. Why is that hard to understand? you don't like it when someone steals your name and she dont either but she don't go off on you like you do on her. Ppl take Cesars and Ruffnutt and others name you are not the only one it happens to. I know you enough MARY from NY.

    April 16, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    You tell her your sorry , I just said to her in CAPS , not to do it, to make it clear. I guess she can do no wrong according to you.

    April 16, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. John

    She didn't do it today yesterday she didn't know. Now do YOU understand? You took it for being mean because she didnt know? I saw yesterday that she said ok. After you cussed her out.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. funkybunch

    Don't go.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    Look, buddy who ever it was that said that to me , I shouted back to. I didnt know that wasnt her at the time and YES I did tell her before and she knew it. WHO ARE YOU , dont remember you.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    I will STAY OUT OF HER WAY. Will that make you happy. this is too much.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Pete in NYC

    I'd love to know what the study cost and who paid for it.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. John

    Did she answer you when you politly asked her? Maybe she didn't see it. When you tell someone in all caps its yelling. I didn't do anything to her you did and you said yesterday that you have no friends. Well maybe you yell at them for stuff they didn't know they did. She's nice. So are you when your not mad at lucifer.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    Yes she did answer me. I know its yelling I meant to. Yes I do have friends and I rarely get mad.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    Why do u thinks I'm mad at Lucifer?

    April 16, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    Are u Lucifer?

    April 16, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    How many brothers did you have?

    April 16, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Steve

    They are warning other whales about radiation!

    April 16, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

      Oil

      April 16, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. John

    I post under another name which I will not tell you. I am here all the time to. You want the truth, I will tell you. She clearly didnt know, all her other friends said so, I dont care if you stay out of her way or not but she didn't know that I know for sure. I think you were mean to call her queen bee and other ppl said you were wrong about this. I dont know anybody, just what I see here, and she's fun and so are you but your wrong and you won't admit it.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. John

    Because you said it on the post last nite. Maybe not but you said you were being played so I said lucifer because you were talking to raven about it. I don't think she answered yoy I think it was a troll. No I'm not lucifer why would you say that?

    April 16, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
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