1. Baleen whale sounds may be the loudest produced by any animal and may travel for tens or hundreds of kilometers underwater. These sounds may be for long-range contact, assembly calls, advertisement for mates, greeting, location, threat, or individual identification. Research is ongoing.
2. The location of sound production is unknown but the larynx is suspected. Baleen whales have no vocal cords.
3. Baleen whales produce primarily low-frequency sounds--below 5,000 Hz. These sounds may be involved in long-distance communication, orientation, or navigation. The repertoire of baleen whale sounds includes low-frequency (20-200Hz) moans, grunts, thumps and knocks; and higher-frequency (above 1000 Hz) chirps, cries, and whistles. The specific vocalizations vary by species.
4. Bowhead and humpback whales also produce a series of repeating units of sounds up to
5,000 Hz that are classified as songs. These are produced primarily by males on the
breeding grounds. The songs, which can last up to 36 minutes each for humpbacks, probably
communicate species, sex, location, mate status, and readiness to compete with other males
for mates. More analysis of the behavior and song is needed before the true function of
whale songs is known.
Some sounds produced by the body may be involved with communication. Noises such as
forceful spouts may signal aggravation. Slapping pectoral flippers or flukes may indicate
arousal, excitement, or aggression.
There is no evidence that baleen whales echolocate the way toothed whales do. Studies have shown, however, that bowhead whales produce low-frequency sounds that may give the whales information about the ocean floor and locations of ice.
Longevity and Causes of Death
SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Animal Information Database
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