Why Do Humpback Whales Sing?

Written by on August 21, 2013 in Marine Life, Whales & Dolphins

Daily Summary

A humpback whale and its calf in NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

A humpback whale and its calf in NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo credit: NOAA.

A Men’s Chorus—Of Whales
Scientists who have been studying humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) for almost 40 years have recently determined that young males join the adults in singing. Scientists long thought that only sexually mature humpbacks sing, but now they have learned that immature males participate as a way to learn the music and to help amplify the song. The scientists speculate that the louder the song, the more females will come. Males sing primarily to attract and compete for mates, but they also sing when escorting a female humpback and her new calf.

Finding Nemo lied to your kids, and they will do it again in the sequel: Finding Dory!
Clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites, which means that they switch sexes at some point in their life. All young clownfish, like Nemo, are male but when they pair up one of them becomes female. So, after Marlin loses his mate and is left alone with little male Nemo, Marlin would have become a female. Check out this pretty entertaining post about what really would have happened in Finding Nemo!

Fish Species Losing Homes As Sea Anemones Suffer From Bleaching
Coral bleaching is a well-known symptom of climate change, but new research shows that sea anemones are also susceptible to bleaching events. The study found that seven of the ten anemone species (including clownfish like Nemo!) suffered from bleaching when water temperatures get too warm for their symbiotic algae. This is bad news for the 28 fish species that depend on anemones for shelter from predators.

Clownfish in its anemone home.

Clownfish in its anemone home. Photo credit NOAA.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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