Navigation Links
Multi-tasking whales sing while feeding, not just breeding
Date:12/19/2012

DURHAM, NC -- Humpback whales are famed for their songs, most often heard in breeding season when males are competing to mate with females. In recent years, however, reports of whale songs occurring outside traditional breeding grounds have become more common. A new study may help explain why.

Humpbacks sing for their supper -- or at least, they sing while they hunt for it.

The research, published December 19 in PLoS ONE, uncovers the whales' little-understood acoustic behavior while foraging.

It also reveals a previously unknown behavioral flexibility on their part that allows the endangered marine mammals to balance their need to feed continuously with the competing need to exhibit mating behaviors such as song displays.

"They need to feed. They need to breed. So essentially, they multi-task," said study co-author Ari S. Friedlaender, research scientist at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment. "This suggests the widely held behavioral dichotomy of breeding-versus-feeding for this species is too simplistic."

Researchers from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, the University of California-Santa Barbara and Duke tracked 10 humpback whales in coastal waters along the Western Antarctic Peninsula in May and June 2010. The peninsula's bays and fjords are important late-season feeding grounds where humpbacks feast on krill each austral autumn before migrating to warm-water calving grounds thousands of miles away.

Using non-invasive multi-sensor tags that attach to the whales with suction cups, the researchers recorded the whales' underwater movements and vocalizations as they foraged.

All 10 of the tags picked up the sounds of background songs, and in two cases, they recorded intense and continuous whale singing with a level of organization and structure approaching that of a typical breeding-ground mating display. The song bouts sometimes lasted close to an hour and in one case occurred even while sensors indicated the whale, or a close companion, was diving and lunging for food.

Humpbacks sing most frequently during breeding season, but are known to sing on other occasions too, such as while escorting mother-calf pairs along migratory routes. Though the reasons they sing are still not thoroughly understood, one distinction is clear: Songs sung in breeding grounds are quite different in duration, phrase type and theme structure from those heard at other locations and times.

"The fact that we heard mating displays being sung in late-season foraging grounds off the coast of Antarctica suggests humpback whale behavior may be more closely tied to the time of year than to physical locations. This may signify an ability to engage in breeding activities outside their traditional warm-water breeding grounds," said Douglas P. Nowacek, Repass-Rogers University Associate Professor of Conservation Technology at Duke's Nicholas School.

As the region's climate warms, sea ice cover around the Western Antarctic Peninsula has thinned in recent years and the water stays open later in the foraging season, he explained. Whales are remaining there longer into austral autumn to feast on krill instead of heading off to warm-water breeding grounds, as many scientists previously believed.

"Mating may now be taking place at higher latitudes," Nowacek said. "This merits further study."

Alison K. Stimpert, research associate in oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School, was lead author of the new study. Lindsey E. Peavey, a PhD Student at the University of California at Santa Barbara's Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, co-authored it with Stimpert, Friedlaender and Nowacek.


'/>"/>
Contact: Tim Lucas
tdlucas@duke.edu
919-613-8084
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Genetic survey of endangered Antarctic blue whales shows surprising diversity
2. Giant squids giant eyes: The better to see hungry whales with
3. New iPad, iPhone app helps mariners avoid endangered right whales
4. Study amplifies understanding of hearing in baleen whales
5. A whale of a discovery: New sensory organ found in rorqual whales
6. Scientists discover a new sensory organ in the chin of baleen whales
7. First paternity study of southern right whales finds local fathers most successful
8. New DNA-method tracks fish and whales in seawater
9. Long menopause allows killer whales to care for adult sons
10. Eating right key to survival of whales and dolphins: UBC research
11. Ultrasound idea: Prototype NIST/CU bioreactor evaluates engineered tissue while creating it
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/28/2017)... PUNE, India , March 28, 2017 ... (Analog, IP, Biometrics), Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), ... Maintenance), Vertical, and Region - Global Forecast to 2022", ... 30.37 Billion in 2016 and is projected to reach ... 15.4% between 2017 and 2022. The base year considered ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. Mohamed Anwar and ... international IAIR Award for the most innovative high security ePassport and eGates  ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller General, Mr. Mohamed Anwar ... right) have received the IAIR award for the "Most innovative high security ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 The report "Gesture Recognition and Touchless Sensing ... Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected ... 29.63% between 2017 and 2022. Continue Reading ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... , Oct. 10, 2017 SomaGenics announced ... the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), expected to ... profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single cells using ... highlights the need to accelerate development of approaches to ... "New techniques for measuring levels of ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... ... 13 prestigious awards honoring scientists who have made outstanding contributions ... scheduled symposium during Pittcon 2018, the world’s leading conference and exposition for laboratory ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... FL (PRWEB) , ... October 09, 2017 , ... The ... scheduled to broadcast first quarter 2018. American Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. ... industry is faced with the challenge of how to continue to feed a growing ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The Giving ... marijuana products targeting the needs of consumers who are incorporating medical marijuana into ... in Phoenix, Arizona. , As operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, The Giving ...
Breaking Biology Technology: