Endangered Species Research authors suggest existence of unknown Whale Population 

  • IASbaba
  • December 26, 2020
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Endangered Species Research authors suggest existence of unknown Whale Population 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Biodiversity

In news 

  • In a paper published in the journal Endangered Species Research, authors described a new whale song, suggesting the existence of a population that was previously unknown.

Key takeaways 

  • Researchers have recorded the unique song off the coast of Oman in the northern Arabian Sea, off the western Chagos Archipalego, and off Madagascar in the southwestern Indian Ocean.
  • Since it is the only blue whale song identified by them in the western Arabian Sea, researchers have called it the “Northwest Indian Ocean”.
  • Researchers believe the source is either the blue whale or Bryde’s whale since both species have been documented off Oman previously.
  • Significance: Given that this song-type has not been reported before, the presence of it across a large geographic region indicates the likely existence of a previously undefined population of blue whales in the Western Indian Ocean.

Do you know? 

  • Not all whales sing. 
  • Only some, such as the baleen whale, have been found to sing songs.
  • Whales use songs to communicate and socialise. 
  • Their songs can be characterised as clicks, whistles and pulsed calls or a composition of “moans, snores, chirps and cries”.
  • Whales use clicks to navigate and identify their surroundings as the sound bounces off objects, helping whales determine their shapes.
  • These use whistles and pulses during social activities.
  • Their songs can last between 6-35 minutes, and some individual whales have been found to sing for 22 hours.
  • Whale songs are typically below 4 kHz in frequency, thus being inaudible to human ears.
  • Human hearing range is between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. 

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