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Music with dinner: Whales sing during foraging season, not just while breeding
Date:12/19/2012

Humpback whales might be expected to take their food seriously given their enormous size, but a new study shows that they may multi-task as they eat, singing mating or breeding songs as they forage in their Antarctic feeding grounds. The research, published December 19 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Alison Stimpert from the Naval Postgraduate School and colleagues, sheds new light on the whales' singing habits in different seasons, which are still a mystery.

Whales sing most frequently during the breeding season but are known to sing on other occasions, such as while escorting mother-calf pairs along migratory routes. Though the reasons that whales sing are still unknown, the distinction between their seasonal behaviors is clear. Breeding, migration and foraging occur in different regions and times of the year, and rarely overlap.

In the current study, the researchers tracked ten whales to study singing behavior in their foraging grounds. They found that all ten sang while foraging, but two of the whales showed intense, continuous bouts of singing similar to what the researchers expected to see in breeding grounds. They also found the whales sang for up to an hour at a time and during active diving periods.

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Contact: One Press
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Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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Music with dinner: Whales sing during foraging season, not just while breeding 
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