Communication and Learning
Researchers at the University of Queensland have just discovered that humpback whales could learn, in the same way as humans, songs. Furthermore, they could even change them! As Ellen Garland explained in the American journal Current Biology, “the song emerges in a population of humpback whales traveling along the eastern coast of Australia, and then this same melody is found very far east in another groups of these cetaceans in French Polynesia “. The modified songs are spread on both sides of the ocean. The air remains the same, but phrases can be added. The song is thus constantly renewed, while retaining its primary meaning. For cetaceans, learning new songs is a kind of social learning. Whales listen, then learn the new song to pass it on. It is certainly the transmission of a culture. This study shows that the whale song is much more than a simple melody, emphasizing its complexity and its rules. The whales have not ceased to amaze us, more reason to preserve them! Besides for your information, other species also communicate in the water via songs and melodies.