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A HYDROPHONE (underwater microphone) recently installed at Newark Beach in Richards Bay has captured the magnificent song of a humpback whale between the harbour mouth and outer anchorage.
The clip was released by marine biologist from the University of Witwatersrand, Shanan Atkins, who has been engaged in ongoing humpback dolphin research at Richards Bay since 1998.
It is currently the humpback whale migration season.
Between June and November scores of the giant mammals can be spotted along the northern KZN coastline on their route towards warm equatorial waters.
Oceans of love songs
While all humpback whales communicate with one another, the males can ‘sing’ for hours by repeating a pattern of sounds.
It is assumed this song is used by them in courtship of females and establishing dominency over other males.
Their sounds can be heard up to 50kms away and are described as a combination of moans, howls and cries.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all males in a population sing the same song, but the songs of each population are different.
For example, whales in the Northern Indian Ocean sing one song, while whales in the North Atlantic sing another. Songs gradually change from year to year.
Their vocalisations typically have an audio frequency of between 80 and 4000 hertz, according to National Geographic.
The low limit for human hearing is 20 hertz.
(Refer to original online article for recording of whale song.)