New Study Analyzes Calls of Blue Whales

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Scientists in California say more than 4,000 recordings of blue whales made off the state’s coast could explain how the world’s largest animal communicates.

Researchers at San Francisco State University spent three months collecting the cries and bubbling chatter of the whales as they swam past an undersea observing station near Half Moon Bay, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

Yet even with all the data, scientists admit they’re unsure whether the calls represent a kind of collaborative discussion, a signal for possible mates, or perhaps a group signal to announce an intention to migrate or head to a new source of food.

Like humpbacks and fin whales, only the male blues are believed to vocalize. But unlike most whales which have widely varied song repertoires, blue whales all communicate at exactly the same unvarying pitch, study leader Roger Bland, an acoustical physicist, said.

“We can only speculate what they mean and wonder just what adaptive advantage the (songs) may give the whales in their evolution,” he said.

Blue whales live in all the oceans of the world with the species and subspecies varying by region, but all are endangered as worldwide hunting decimated their numbers before international protections were imposed in 1966.

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