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World Whale Day
"All the whales in the wider deeps,
hot are they,
as they urge on and on,
and dive beneath the icebergs.
The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers
there they blow, there they blow,
hot wild white breath out of the sea!"
~ Whales Weep Not! D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
The 1967 discovery of humpback whale songs by biologists Roger Payne and Scott McVay triggered a sea change in public perception of whales. Long considered a "portentous and mysterious monster," as Moby Dick author Herman Melville put it, baleen whales now suddenly came across as gentle, intelligent and soulful. Payne and McVay revealed that male humpbacks produce complex vocalizations featuring repeated "themes" that can last up to 30 minutes! In 1969 a tape of humpback songs was given to singer Judy Collins, who included them on her gold 1970 album "Whales and Nightingales." Capitol Records also released the songs that year in an LP, "Songs of the Humpback Whale," which is still the best-selling nature album of all time! In addition to their unique vocalizations between, the shape of the blowhole spray can identify different species of whales! A long, skinny, smokestack-like puff is usually a blue whale or a fin whale. If it’s more heart-shaped, then it’s more likely to be a humpback whale, and if it’s more V-shaped, that’s more likely to be a right (baleen) whale. 🐋
By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan is inspired by the blue and grey colours of this majestic behemoth of the deep ocean.
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal belonging to the baleen whales (Mysticeti). At 30 metres (98 ft) in length and 180 tonnes (200 short tons) or more in weight, it is the largest extant animal and is the heaviest known to have existed.
As with other baleen whales, its diet consists almost exclusively of small crustaceans known as krill.
Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the twentieth century. For over a century, they were hunted almost to extinction by whalers until protected by the international community in 1966.
All blue whale groups make calls at a fundamental frequency between 10 and 40 Hz; the lowest frequency sound a human can typically perceive is 20 Hz. Blue whale calls last between ten and thirty seconds. Blue whales off the coast of Sri Lanka have been repeatedly recorded making "songs" of four notes, lasting about two minutes each, reminiscent of the well-known humpback whale songs.
To hear some blue whale song, click the whales.