I soon found that I could put this recording on while I was working and – after that first unsettling trumpet-like sound – it actually became a relaxing piece of music and helped me focus. Of course, I’m a whale sound loving madman, and you might find it a completely strange experience, but you might agree.
This recording is unusual because most of the time I have recorded humpback whales, I’ve been in Hawaii, where they delve into courtship and mating rituals that scientists believe their songs are related to. Most of these recordings show dozens of other humpback whales joining a choir – and one of the notable things about these whales, of course, is that they are all singing the same piece of music.
That doesn’t happen with this recording. Instead, we seem to hear the two adults sing short sentences to the teen, who then respond with what appear to be much higher versions of the same vocalizations. In other words, we know that humpback whales can somehow pass the knowledge of these songs on to one another, and what we may hear is the process of cultural transmission that is taking place.
Regardless of the nature of what we hear, there is an ethereal beauty to everything that makes human music … seem primitive. Enjoy!
Here’s a recording of humpbacks singing as a choir off the coast of Maui.