Featured Image Credit: Wired
By Sarah Sharkey
Scientists recently discovered that whales communicate and make their calls by blowing air through their vocal cords. Originally, we had thought that baleen whales made their calls using resonating sounds in large chambers of their respiratory system.
A general rule had been that the larger the animal meant the lower the frequency. With this new knowledge, we now know they are able to control the frequency by blowing air faster or slower, but their calls are usually in a fairly constant frequency.
Unfortunately, researchers have discovered that humans are affecting the frequency whales are using to make their calls. Some whales are lowering their frequency and others are just omitting parts of their vocalizations.
Researchers have hypothesized that the whales are changing the way they communicate by adjusting their calls as a response to an increase in ambient noise in the ocean. This increase in ambient noise is human caused, boats and other human activities contribute to ambient noise in the ocean.
Other reasons for the decrease in frequency could be an effect of recovering from commercial whaling, with more whales in the ocean the different calls could be in response to the rising population.
Scientists will continue to try to nail down the “why?” But for now, it is certain that whales are choosing to change their calls due to some environmental factor.
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