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. Really?

    I'm not a troll, but you're sure slow if you think people don't see right through you baby-doll act.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    I am stating the facts of the EVENTS not talking about Banasy now when everyone reads this all they will see is 3 PPL attacking me 1 PERSON.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Really?

    Nope. You attacked Banasy. Those are the facts. I hopoe she's more of a lady than you are when she reads what you've said about her.

    April 16, 2011 at 1:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone


    April 16, 2011 at 1:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. HRM

    What is wrong with all of you? God, get a life, all of you!!!!

    Later, losers!!!!!

    April 16, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    Do you honestly think everyone's going to be siding with you after your ATTACK on me. I yelled at her. Big difference between attacking and yelling!

    April 16, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    ok, name the times when I attacked others and who they are?

    April 16, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mmmmm

      okay girl it's time you stop fussing...and give us ya whalesong!
      Ah one, ah two...and ah one, two, three...

      April 16, 2011 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    Who are you and yes I am a lady and no I didnt say Banasy wasnt a lady. WHO ARE U ANSWER OR EVERYONE WILL QUESTION U, NOT ME

    April 16, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Wzrd1

    Yep, now we have the translation of Humpback whale song. See how it's changing gradually over time?

    April 16, 2011 at 2:05 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    Ok, I'm not going to play anymore. I did NOT say that to her WHO ARE U , every one must ask that question. I NEVER HAVE BEEN MEAN TO HER, GOT IT? JUST ASK HER. SHE EVEN SAID IT TODAY " I THOUGHT WE WERE BLOGGING FRIENDS" JUST LOOK IT UP ON THIS BLOG.

    April 16, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ???

    Hey, now, leave Jazzzzzzz alone, ppl. She's fun and doesn't deserve this. I love banasy and all, but you guys are being to rough on Jazzzzz. So she made a mistake with banasy, so what? Geez, ppl,cut Jazzzzz some slack, ok? Jazzzzzz didn't do anything except for being wrong about banasy, and everybody is wrong from time to time. Back off!!!

    April 16, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

      Thanks for the sentiment but I didnt do anything wrong I asked her politley before and she or whoever did it again.

      April 16, 2011 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • serious?

      Completely agreed!

      April 16, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone


      April 16, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mary T.

    God, I haven't laughed so hard in ages!!! Thanks!

    April 16, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

    I typed in caps so everyone will look at what I am saying. I am going to bed now. This will be the end and I will ask EVERYONE what they want me to do (go or stay) if everyone wants me to go I will certainly go. So sorry that yelling at some one to stop something that you have asked them not to do before is a crime and makes me a EVIL PERSON.

    April 16, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone


    April 16, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mary T.

    Hey, I just read the whole thread.
    Isn't this banasy?
    "And I like Jazz, too. I thought we got along well and considered her an online friend ’til I read this morning’s thread."
    I think she knows you don't like her anymore. Too bad for you. She sounds...normal.

    April 16, 2011 at 2:28 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jazzzzzzzz - something fun for everyone

      Sorry to disappoint you but I am normal. Didnt say or do anything wrong


      April 16, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
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