Subject: Whale Song

Lori Mazzuca (
Wed, 7 May 1997 07:24:36 -1000 (HST)

Dear Great,
	Thank you for your questions.  You asked  how and why whales
produce their songs and how far the sounds travel.
	In the instance of the humpback whale, the sounds have been
classified as true songs. Exactly how the sounds are produced by the
humpbacks is not fully understood.  Whales have no vocal cords, yet the
sounds produced by the humpback cover the widest frequency range of all
the whales.  It is believed that the air is circulated thorugh its complex
respiratory system while the whae is submerged, but no air is released
into the water while they sing.
	While all whales can vocalize, to date, the "singers" observed by
researchers were identified as males.  The songs are produced on the
breeding grounds, so researchers speculate that singing might have
something to do with attracting a mate, establishing a territory, or
advertising availability.  But, it seems to be the general consensus that
the song is somehow linked to "courtship."
	Water conducts sound 3 1/2 times faster and 4 1/2 times further
than air.  The sounds of whales can be heard from miles away.  The lower
frequencies can travel at least 100 miles and I have heard that some of
those sounds might even travel as far as several hundred miles!
	Thank you again for your questions!
Lori Mazzuca 

On Tue, 6 May 1997 wrote:

> How do whales produce their "songs" and for what purpose? How far can
> they travel through water?