WHALES: Blue October

Imagine the largest animal in the world, moving at 20 miles an hour, and singing at the top of its voice. Well, this month, that’s exactly what Blue Whales are doing, as they begin their annual migrations south. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We’re listening to a speeded-up recording of Blue Whale calls.

“Right now off of Newfoundland and off of Iceland the Blue Whales are beginning to sing more and more. And they’re starting to move southward.”

Chris Clark directs the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University.

“As we move into November and December and into the winter months they will progressively migrate south. Not as one large coordinate herd, almost as individuals moving slowly south, past Bermuda, past the Cape Verde Islands, down into the Caribbean area. They will populate the entire region between Bermuda and Newfoundland. And during that time they move hundreds of miles at will in a week.”

The whales sing as they migrate, but their voices are so low in pitch, they’re below the range of human hearing. So we speed up the recording sixty times. That means you’ll hear sixty minutes of Blue Whale singing in just one minute of time.

“What you’ll hear is this very mournful sound almost like an owl. In real life this call that you’ve just heard is repeated once every minute or every two minutes.”

Dr. Clark believes that the Blue Whale calls may be being used as a form of long distance echolocation. We’ll hear more in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

WHALES: Blue October

Blue Whales are migrating this month, singing their ways southward.
Air Date:10/13/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

Imagine the largest animal in the world, moving at 20 miles an hour, and singing at the top of its voice. Well, this month, that's exactly what Blue Whales are doing, as they begin their annual migrations south. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

We're listening to a speeded-up recording of Blue Whale calls.

"Right now off of Newfoundland and off of Iceland the Blue Whales are beginning to sing more and more. And they're starting to move southward."

Chris Clark directs the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University.

"As we move into November and December and into the winter months they will progressively migrate south. Not as one large coordinate herd, almost as individuals moving slowly south, past Bermuda, past the Cape Verde Islands, down into the Caribbean area. They will populate the entire region between Bermuda and Newfoundland. And during that time they move hundreds of miles at will in a week."

The whales sing as they migrate, but their voices are so low in pitch, they're below the range of human hearing. So we speed up the recording sixty times. That means you'll hear sixty minutes of Blue Whale singing in just one minute of time.

"What you'll hear is this very mournful sound almost like an owl. In real life this call that you've just heard is repeated once every minute or every two minutes."

Dr. Clark believes that the Blue Whale calls may be being used as a form of long distance echolocation. We'll hear more in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.