Saturday 3 December 2016

Whales make waves with own pop songs

Published 15/04/2011 | 05:00

rESEARCHERS have discovered that Humpback whales are just as keen on a catchy song as humans, writes John von Radowitz.

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Male whales whistle mating tunes that, like pop songs on the radio, either prove a hit or miss. Catchy "remix" versions of the songs quickly spread across the ocean, almost always travelling east to west.

Usually the songs are made up of blended old and new material.

But sometimes a song is judged to be a "miss" and dropped altogether, making way for a completely new tune.

Ellen Garland, a researcher from the University of Queensland in Australia, said: "Our findings reveal cultural change on a vast scale."

Popular songs moved like "cultural ripples", causing all the males to start singing the new version.

Scientists made the discovery after a decade searching for patterns in songs recorded from six neighbouring Pacific whale populations.

They found it took about two years for male mating songs to spread from Australia to French Polynesia.

Irish Independent

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