Science World

A song belonging to a previously unknown population of blue whales has been heard in the Indian Ocean

This could mean that there are at least two populations of the largest mammal in the ocean

This comes as exciting news for the ones studying whales and their songs as a new type of whale song has been heard and it’s claimed to belong to a previously unknown population of blue whales living in tranquility in the Indian Ocean.

The song was picked up by three different underwater locations that was separated by 3,500 kilometres (2,175 miles) of ocean. It was first recorded in 2017 off the coast of Madagascar, and was later heard in the western Arabian Sea, off the coast of Oman, and later in the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean.

Preserving the species

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Till now, this area was thought to have only one population of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), which was identified by their unique call. Other whales that were discovered were assumed to belong to this population. But the sounds heard in these three locations where different and that’s when extensive studies were conducted.

From the songs, it’s suggested that at least two populations currently dwell within the ocean, having either distinct or partially overlapping distributions. Whale songs are studied on a global scale so the scientists are currently having a “whale” of a time.

The scientists did careful comparisons between different songs and concluded that they didn’t belong to any local whale. What adds to it was that within hours of hearing the new song, blue whales were seen off the coast of Oman. The sounds produced had the same low frequency and regularly spaced repetitions, but it still showed its unique qualities.

Whales were nearly hunted to extinction in the 20th century for their blubber and oil until it was banned in 1967. It’s great news to see that they are currently thriving in the oceans and seas and it’s our duty to make sure that they continue to live.

 

(Cover: iStock Photo)