Friday Jul 01, 2022
Researchers at the University of Queensland discovered that humpback whales can learn difficult songs from whales in different regions.
The study was led by Dr Jenny Allen at the university and closely examined song patterns of male humpback whales from each region between 2009 and 2015.
Dr Allen was surprised to find that whales transmitted other whales’ songs with “remarkable accuracy”.
“By listening to the Australian humpback population, we were able to see if the songs changed in any way when sung by the New Caledonian whales,” Dr Allen said. “We found they actually learned the exact sounds, without simplifying or leaving anything out.”
According to Dr Allen, it's very rare for such cultural exchange to be documented on “such a large-scale” in a non-human species.
“Having an in-depth understanding of a species is known to greatly improve the efficacy of conservation and management methods,” Dr Allen said.
“We now have a more holistic picture of the behaviours, movements and interactions of different humpback whale populations, including how they transmit culture.”
The study was published in Scientific Reports.