Arctic bowhead whales communicate by singing haunting “jazz” music.
If you’ve ever seen Finding Nemo, you’d know that Dory taught us all how to speak “whale”, but did you know that a specific species actually sing to one another in order to communicate? The bowhead whales have an eerily creepy way of talking to each other that is grabbing the attention of everyone.
According to News Week, a recent study conducted by a team from the University of Washington analyzed audio recordings of bowhead whales in the Arctic. The research team called the communicative sounds freeform “jazz”. However, it isn’t the jazz music we’re all used to hearing. Check out their awesome singing abilities below!
The team heading up the research on these phenomenal creatures gathered the audio from underwater microphones, known as hydrophones. They conducted their research from between 2010 and 2014 off the east coast of Greenland. The University of Washington team gathered a variety of 184 different songs from a population of around 200 whales.
It’s known that all mammals communicate via sound, however, only a select number of species actually produce complex songs such as those the bowhead whales make. It is so unique that oceanographer Kate Stafford compared the whales sounds to jazz. “If humpback whale song is like classical music, bowheads are jazz,” she said.
The researcher also mentioned how “the sound is more freeform. And when we looked throughout winters of acoustic data, not only were there never any song types repeated between years, but also each season has a new set of songs. The research was extremely beneficial considering the bowhead whale is critically endangered."
If you’re not familiar with this amazing creature, then look no further! Bowheads are superlative animals that according to News Week, can live up to 200 years. They also have the thickest blubber of any other whale, the longest baleen, and can also break through ice, Stafford said.
Although there is no known specific reason why these whales use a jazz-like sound to communicate with one another, Stafford believes “they’ve evolved to do all these amazing things. I don’t know why they do this remarkable singing, but there must be a reason.”
I’m sure we’ll figure it out one day, but for now, we can only enjoy the haunting sounds of jazz these beautiful animals create.