Subject: purpose of sound for whales

Howard Garrett (
Tue, 4 May 1999 22:14:35 -0400 (EDT)

>I'm wondering what purpose whale sounds (singing, clicking etc) have 
>other than echolocation.
>Warmest regards,
>Joanne Merriam
>Halifax, NS, Canada

        With that question you have gone beyond the present understanding of
the scientific community. Over the past 25 years or so scientists have
confirmed that whales make a truly vast array of sounds. Humpback sounds
contain the components of music, and are called songs. Sperm whales make a
series of knocking sounds. Blue whales make thunder below our human range of
hearing. Orca calls are completely specific to each community and pod, and
are a huge variety of whistles, honks, squeaks and trills. Belugas are known
as the canaries of the sea. 

        But what's going on? Why do they make these sounds, that go far
beyond most animals' grunts and moos in complexity and variability? Nobody
knows. What do you think?

Howard Garrett
Tokitae Foundation
Lolita Campaign Coordinator
(305) 672-4039

For more on Lolita, and to hear her family and see a video of Lolita in
her tank, check out the NEW Free Lolita web site at: 

and for a campaign overview, see the EVEN NEWER Lolita Come Home Page at: