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Whalesongs...now what are they talking about?

What does a humpback whale sound like? And what might they be chatting about?

This week we went out with one of the researchers from the University of Queensland, School of Veterinary Science, where Professor Michael Noad has been studying whalesong for more than 20 years. We wanted to learn how we can capture our own whalesongs using a hydrophone.

The Whitsundays is a candidate for accreditation as a Whale Heritage Site by the World Cetacean Alliance so collecting more data on these beautiful marine mammals will be part of what we will achieve if we gain accreditation status. Did you know whales, like humans, have three inner ear bones and hair, they breathe air, and the females produce milk through mammary glands and suckle their young?

On our trip out with Genevieve who is halfway through her PhD studying the social relationships of Humpback Whales we heard how loud even small boats were that went past. Never mind deafening explosions from Woodside Energy's seismic blasts as they get ready to start blasting near whale migration routes in Western Australia.

And we learned how to identify the types of songs - breaking them down into units and themes - so we can all better understand what they might be saying.

Mostly, Genevieve tells us, it's the males courting the females - even when they have calves. And here in the Whitsundays is where the come to calf as we have 74 islands and sheltered bays. So from June to September every year we are lucky enough to be their nursery destination.

And more good news, the population - now thought to be 40,000 - has returned to pre-hunting days.

So as soon as we get our hydrophones, we will be listening live to all that chatter - and by the way - they sound like a cross between a cow and a monkey - if that's possible.



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