From: Greg Early (gregearly@downeast.net)
Date: Thu Nov 08 2001 - 15:33:03 EST

  -----Original Message-----
  From: emsanders [mailto:emsanders34@hotmail.com]
  Sent: Wednesday, November 07, 2001 12:13 PM
  To: gregearly@downeast.net; pita@whale.wheelock.edu
  Subject: Whales

     I am doing a science project on Whale Communication and was wondering
if you might answer some questions for me?

     1. Have any humpback whales been satellite tagged?

  Yes. researcher Dr. Bruce Mate has done it and had the tag stay on long
enough to track the whale from Hawii to Alaska. See the following web sites
for more info on that work:


     2. I have looked at the migration map, but have any actually been
          by their tags, if tagged?

  see above..

     3. What is the "melon" in their heads?
  If you are talking about humpback whales...they do not have a melon.
Melons are only found on toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises. Just
happens to also be the animals that echolocate the most. Early on folks
noticed that the ones making the most echolocation noises also seemed to
have well developed melons, so the thought is that the melon is important
for echolocation. Most scientists think that it helps transmit and focus
sounds that the animal makes.
     4. Is a humpback song different from a blue whale's song?

  In a couple of ways. The humpback repeats sounds and sections of the song
over and over. The song is complex both in this structure, and the sounds
are complex with a lot of frequencies (high and low sounds). The blue whale
makes noises that are a sort of loud but very low burp/humm sort of noise.
Not very melodic (unless you are another blue whale I guess).

     5. Do you think more advanced technology will be developed that will
          help us determine what humpbacks are communicating to each other,
          like lie detectors help law officers?

  Well, why not...I mean, if you figure that lie detectors basically measure
a persons emotional state, we might be able 9at some point) to use sounds to
figure out how excited a whale is. In fact, one of the first sounds
described and recorded for dolphins was a characteristic whistle that is
done when an animal is upset. These distress whistles are pretty well
described and seem to occur during times of stress...

     6. Why do you think after a period of time their song changes?

  Scientists think that during the breeding season whale songs in a
particular area become more alike. The why part I am not as sure
about...maybe it is just a catchy tune ;~)

     7. Is the male humpback song different from the female's song?

  For sure...the females don't sing...

               Thank you for answering these questions for me?
               Earl Austin in
               Mrs. Sanders Class

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