A Moment of Science

Greatest Whale Hits

Have you ever heard whales moan and make noise in the sea? It would seem whales must have some pretty strange vocal cords with the range of sounds they are able to emit.

However, they don’t actually have vocal cords at all. Some whales make noise by moving inhaled air around inside their giant nasal cavities and scientists think that others use an air sac somewhere near the throat as a sort of squeezebox. Scientists are still trying to understand how whale sound systems work, but they do know every whale species has its own distinct noises. Plus, whale songs are some of the loudest animal sounds on earth.

Why are they so noisy?

Well, one reason may be that whales have to be loud to keep in touch over long distances. Some whale songs can be heard for hundreds of miles underwater. Some scientists think that male whales sing for the same reason that a lot of guys start bands.

Singing might be the whale equivalent of a male peacock showing its feathers. During mating season some whales sing the same songs over and over until they find that special someone.

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