humpbackwhalesongspaper

humpbackwhalesongspaper - Whale Song A review of studies...

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Whale Song A review of studies focused on the singing behavior of male humpback whales ( Megaptera novaeangliae ) Amisha Patel December 3, 2007 a paper submitted to the faculty of the Department of Biology, Boston University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Mammal Ecology, BI 512
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Introduction In a planet that is mostly composed of water, communication among sea creatures is essential for survival in the vast underwater world. Humpback whales, ( Megaptera novaeangliae ), particularly vocal sea mammals, emit sounds ranging from short groans to 30 minute sequences of calls (Payne 1971). This paper will focus on longer sequences of calls made by humpback whales, a form of acoustics also known as singing, and the purpose of their songs. Possible reasons for the famous whale songs include verbal communication, food capture, and sexual selection. Understanding why humpbacks sing could someday lead to human communication with wild whales that would be helpful in the preservation of these endangered sea giants (The Marine Mammal Center 2000). When humpbacks sing, each has its own individual song that develops differently over time (Marine Mammal Society 2001). However, whales that live in similar basins sound similar, but they have song patterns that greatly differ from the song patterns of whales in an unfamiliar basin (Payne 2002). Scientists believe this phenomenon to be a form of dialect among humpback whales (Cerchio et. al. 2000). When whales use their acoustics in the cold feeding waters of the earth’s ocean, it is for the purpose of capturing food. A spectacularly synchronized method of food capture, called bubble netting, involves multiple humpback whales trapping fish in a wall of bubbles and sound, and then moving together with open mouths to capture the trapped fish. When humpback whales use music in the breeding grounds, it is believed that because only male whales sing, it is for the purpose of attracting females. This paper will focus on each of these uses for singing through information collected from actual field research on humpback whales. 2
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In a study done on the acoustics of all types of marine mammals, scientists Peter Evans and Philip Hammond (2004) describe the accuracy of using whale sounds to determine whale behavior. They monitored visual and acoustic data collection in European waters and found both advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Because the focus of this paper is on auditory information, only data relating to acoustics will be discussed. The disadvantages they found with acoustic information were that the equipment was very specialized and the data could only be gathered with quiet and expensive materials. The advantages of acoustic information was that once the equipment was at hand, data gathering was relatively simple, easy to standardize and analyze, and was less affected by sea conditions than visual data was. This study shows that because the information presented in this paper is based on auditory data, the
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humpbackwhalesongspaper - Whale Song A review of studies...

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