Why Whale Song is like Pop Music – The Royal Society

Join Dr Ellen Garland from the University of St Andrews on her quest to chart the journey of humpback whale songs across the Pacific Ocean. Male humpback whales sing a repetitive, learnt, and culturally transmitted song display. Most males within a population sing the same, slow-evolving song; but in the South Pacific, songs from neighbouring populations have come in and taken over, almost like pop music. Humpback whales seem to like the novelty of a new sound but Dr Garland wants to discover whether it’s really a ‘sexy song’ that attracts the attention of a female, or a ‘sexy singer.’

If you’d like to learn more you can read Ellen’s paper in Royal Society Open Science here.

Part of a three-film commission by The Royal Society, celebrating the diverse and exciting research of their fellows.

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