We´re two girls from Germany and have to do some homework we can´t solve.
Why whales sing? , How they talk to each other? - These are the questions.
We really hope you can help us!
Katrin & Krystina
These are very broad questions. It's been over thirty years since humpback
whale songs were first discovered and described for science, and to this
day there is no firm understanding of exactly why they sing. One can answer
that question in terms of specific biological needs, such as to attract a
mate, and indeed the songs are sung primarily in the mating and birthing
season, so the songs probably play some role in determining who will mate
with whom. Very recently the scientific community has begun to entertain
the notion that at least some whale species, including humpbacks, learn
from one another and behave according to cultural norms, not just out of
biological impulses. In that case singing is probably done for complex
cultural reasons, not just for simple biological needs, and until
scientists begin to describe specific whale cultures, the answer to your
question will remain far beyond the scope of scientific inquiry.
Your other question, How do they talk to each other?, could apply to almost
any cetacean species, and would be answered differently depending on the
species. I'm not sure if you are asking about the physical mechanism used
in producing the sounds they make to each other, or if you are asking if it
is true that they do talk to each other. Again, recent reviews of field
studies as well as experiments on captive dolphins have suggested that
several species, including, but not limited to, sperm whales, humpbacks,
orcas, both kinds of pilot whales, and bottlenose dolphins, communicate
with one another using intricate, culturally determined vocal systems. In
other words, they talk to each other. Descriptions of the physical
properties of those vocalizations can and do fill volumes, but left unknown
is the content of the information shared or the role communication plays in
the daily lives of the animals. There is much to be learned.
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