One of the most outstanding characteristics of the humpback whale is it’s ability to vocalize in song. All humpbacks can vocalize (females will warn or solicit escorts, and mothers and calves will communicate with one another), but only the male humpback is known to produce the prolonged and structured “song” that humpbacks are renowned for (though it’s exact purpose remains unclear, it’s likely that it plays a role in mate selection). The song of the humpback whale is unique among cetacean vocalizations in it’s complexity. Indeed, it has been described by one acoustics researcher as “strikingly similar” to human musical compositions. Like us, humpback whales appear to utilize the larynx to produce sound, though they lack vocal cords like ours; the exact mechanism of sound production remains unknown. We do know that the song follows a hierarchical structure, with distinct phrases and themes, and in it’s entirety may last up to 30 minutes. Consistent among humpbacks in a given population, the song nevertheless slowly evolves; notes rise or flatten, combinations change.
Mysterious and haunting, humpback song is detectable through the aquatic realm for hundreds or even thousands of miles. Often audible underwater to the naked human ear, the sounds of whale song range from growls, chirps and moans to high, wistful, pure tones. It is often repeated over and over for hours, or even days. During mating season, the waters of the Silver Bank are alive with the songs of the humpback whale, and you will have ample opportunity to listen in, directly or via hydrophone.
Song of the Silver Bank
Click on the headphones to hear 3 minutes of the Song of the Silver Bank.The audio provided will need to use a free Apple product - QuickTime Player - to be able to hear this short segment of the Song of the Silver Bank. Click on your operating system icon below, and follow directions to download or upgrade QuickTime Player to your hard drive.
CD's and DVD's are available with the entire song (25 to 30 minutes) at the Adventure Gift Shop.