Scientists have been studying the song made by blue whales in order to try and better forecast their movements up and down the Pacific coast.
In what is a busy area for shipping lanes, fatal collisions between boats and blue whales are a fairly frequent occurrence.
Seeking out warmer water, the giant mammals make an Autumn migration from the northeast region of the Pacific Ocean down to Central America.
Its at this time they are at most risk. Looking for a way in which to better detect the whales’ movements, scientists installed underwater microphones in the Monterey Bay area to study the noises the animals make for a five year period.
The serenade song holds the secret
Specifically, they wanted to analyze the song which male whales use to serenade the females. During summer, the whales eat large amounts of krill to strengthen themselves for their migration. That is done in the day time. Its at night when the males engage in their mating calls.
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The scientists noticed that when the whales began migrating, they switched the serenade song from night to day time.
By tracking the transition between the times of their song, the researchers are hopeful that they will be able to accurately predict the whales’ movement patterns.
With this knowledge, they hope to be able to sound warnings when they expect the whales to be on the move and heading towards busy shipping alleys.
“Potentially we could give some advance notice to folks managing these ecosystems in southern California that, hey, we’re hearing the blue whales start to migrate south, you might have a lot of them showing up here quite soon,” explained Stanford University PhD candidate and study coauthor William Oestreich.
Such a system could prove especially invaluable as changes in ecosystems and global warming potentially change the migration patterns of blue whales.
IMAGE FEATURED: jamesteohart