In a First, Scientists Track Blue Whales by Song
Researchers able to zero in on mammoth creatures for study
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2013 2:26 PM CDT
File image of a blue whale.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Blue whales may be the planet's biggest creature, but that doesn't mean they're easy to track and study. This should help, however: Australian researchers on the Southern Ocean were able to get around what one called the "needle in a haystack" problem by dropping acoustic buoys into the water and listening for Antarctic blue whales' 20-second songs, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. They were able to zero in on 87 whales, some of which were tagged to shed light on their migratory habits and health.

"It's a very deep song, but all of the Antarctic blues sing the same tune," one researcher tells Australia's ABC News. "They have perfect pitch." Another tells AFP: "They are quite, almost alien-like, deep resonating sounds. They are quite intense. Very interesting to listen to." It's the first time scientists have used acoustics to track down blue whales, and the researchers think the method will now become standard procedure around the world.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
kateINC
Mar 28, 2013 2:19 PM CDT
Hope they record them so our grandchildren will be able to hear them after they're gone.
JoeQ
Mar 28, 2013 12:54 AM CDT
So basically they've taken the same technology that the military has used for decades to detect submarines and adapted it to detect whales.
iq145
Mar 27, 2013 11:54 PM CDT
Humans are apes. Apes are the most intelligent lifeform in the history of the Earth. Do you know what the second most intelligent is? Of course they have a sophisticated form of communication. To top that, they are a major part of ocean ecology. Whales are to the ocean what humans are to land... and they're linked.