Friday, January 27, 2012

Cool Animal Sounds: Orca

I haven't done one of these in a while.

Some whales are far more vocal than others. The toothed whales, such as orcas, dolphins, and belugas are really quite vocal, including using echolocation to locate their prey. Baleen whales do not echolocate, but are still very capable of producing sounds, however they vocalize purely as a form of communication. Their calls are also very high frequency and will only travel rather short distances in the water. Baleen whale song, such as humpback or blue whales, is commonly sold in the form of CDs that are meant to be relaxing. These songs are love songs and are incredible low in frequency, carrying for hundreds of miles. In fact, the frequency is so low that many of the recordings have to be altered so that we can even hear them! Whale song usually changes from year to year, depending on what is "trendy."

There is a fairly famous whale of an unknown species that was first identified by the US Navy due to its unusual song frequency of 52 Hz. Not only does its song match no other whale, but its migration patterns are also strange. NOAA has a page that seems to suggest that the whale may be an unusual blue whale. It's also thought by some that the lonely whale may be a hybrid of some sort, or be the last remaining member of an otherwise extinct species.


  1. Orcas are so cool. They have been my favorite marine mammal since I was old enough to pick one out.

    Have you seen the Frozen Planet series? It's very good, and the segments on Orcas hunting are very interesting. I did not know about the technique some of them use to dislodge seals from ice, it's pretty amazing.

  2. I don't know that I have a favorite marine mammal. It's much too difficult to decide to me! I also haven't had the sort of awe-inspiring experience with a mammal that I did with a manta ray at the Georgia Aquarium.

    I haven't had a chance yet, no. I will definitely be looking for it so that I can watch it. I have seen countless other documentaries, however, including several depicting that ice hunting technique. It is incredibly fascinating. My favorite creative aquatic mammal hunting tactic is the bank-rushing that dolphins implement in the salt marshes around here. However, I do tend to be partial to things that I have personally witnessed.