In a First, Scientists Track Blue Whales by Song

Researchers able to zero in on mammoth creatures for study
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2013 2:26 PM CDT
In a First, Scientists Track Blue Whales by Song
File image of a blue whale.   (Shutterstock)

Blue whales may be the planet's biggest creature, but that doesn't mean they're easy to track and study. This should help, however: Australian researchers on the Southern Ocean were able to get around what one called the "needle in a haystack" problem by dropping acoustic buoys into the water and listening for Antarctic blue whales' 20-second songs, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. They were able to zero in on 87 whales, some of which were tagged to shed light on their migratory habits and health.

"It's a very deep song, but all of the Antarctic blues sing the same tune," one researcher tells Australia's ABC News. "They have perfect pitch." Another tells AFP: "They are quite, almost alien-like, deep resonating sounds. They are quite intense. Very interesting to listen to." It's the first time scientists have used acoustics to track down blue whales, and the researchers think the method will now become standard procedure around the world. (Read more Antarctica stories.)

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