Singing Humpbacks – 2/22

So I headed to Silver Bank to go snorkeling with Humpback Whales. And on one particular day, the conditions were absolutely glassy, glassy, glassy, calm seas. And we headed out, we were searching for whales. And we were having a tough time finding some doing lots of searching and at one point, the guide, through hydrophone in the water, we just kind of paused and he threw a hydrophone in the water. And it was really interesting, because, you know, we’re hearing all sorts of humpback singing and they sound loud to me. And his first comment was, they’re all so far away. Which was really remarkable to me, because you know, here in the Salish Sea, when we throw the hydrophone down for for Orca, we rarely get the chance to do it for humpbacks. But when we do it for Orca, the sound level that he had for those humpbacks was very similar. And for the sound level, it sort of was what we would expect when the Orca are really close by. So it was just really interesting to think how much further and louder humpback vocals are, or that you can hear them from and it still sounds loud.

So we pulled up the hydrophone and he got wind from one of our other boats out there, that they had a singer close by. And so we made our way over to that animal and because the conditions were so, so glassy, absolutely perfect conditions for recording vocals. We stopped and we, you know, did some he threw the hydrophone and again and we did some vocal recordings for a while, because there aren’t that many opportunities when you’re that far out into the ocean to get those flat, calm, pristine days to get you know, vocals that don’t have other other sounds that can contaminate the vocals. So, you know, as much as we wanted to get into the water right away and go see if we could find this whale, it was really cool to kind of be there. And on a day like that, where a vocal could be recorded. That was so so clear, and crystal and so after being on the boat for a while and and getting to, you know, do little recordings at the surface and or throwing or not throwing but dipping our GoPros over the side of the boat to to get those vocals like obviously the whale wasn’t right beside us at that point. But you know, dipping our GoPros in the water to record some of those audio audios was pretty cool too.

And then we were given the opportunity to slip into the water and see if we could pick up that whale and see if we could find it while it was still singing. So we slipped into the water and kind of started to make our way in the direction of that animal. And we were lucky enough to be able to spot it while it was still singing and slowly as we approached got a quick glimpse of that animal. My GoPro footage isn’t the greatest but it’s really cool that we had the opportunity to be in the water at the same time and see this singer below us as well.

It was pretty magical. One of my favorite moments for sure.

You know, I always love to hear whales vocalizing I mean even whales just breathing the surface is one of my favorite sounds in the world. But when you get to hear them sing and humpbacks when they’re singing, you know it’s squawks and grunts and squeaks and all sorts of different noises that you know sometimes remind you of other animals, which is really cool. But it’s amazing to hear these guys vocalize the way that they do and how how far those sounds can really travel like we were, when we were recording you know, we were close ish to the whale but not right beside it or right on top of it and hearing how strong like we could hear those vocals significantly, like loudly through the hull without the hydrophone we at one point had even turned the hydrophone like the at least the speaker to the hydrophone off just so we could hear to see if we could hear it through the hull of the vessel as well which it was incredible.

Yeah, it was so clear through the hull of the boat. Yeah, so that’s my, that’s my story of a humpback whale singing on the Silver Bank. Humpback singing, orcas vocalizing, those are the only two cetaceans that I’ve had the privilege of hearing in my life so far, and oh, actually, sperm whale once as well. But just you know, the clicking of the sperm whale, but yeah, I mean, magical. No matter how you look at it, hearing these big beautiful animals vocalizing is is pretty magical. So that’s my story.


This post was adapted from a voice recording in the fiftieth episode of the Whale Tales Podcast, listen here

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