hawaiin bird dolphins swimming

Whale Sounds

Council of the Humpback Whales CD

humpback whale dive

About this CD and Whales.
humpback whale breach Background Information about this CD. The Humpback Whale sounds on this stereo CD were recorded from kayaks and small boats along the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. About 100 hours of recordings were edited down to 62 minutes for this stereo Humpback Whale CD. Much of the CD was taped using a pro quality DAT recorder allowing us to capture whale sound frequencies up to 20,000 HZ. Most humans can only hear to 16,000 HZ. The hydrophones (underwater mics) were custom designed in our own in house electronics lab. You will hear the many natural pure songs of the Humpback whales.

Our sound recordings were done in deep waters off the coast of the Island of Hawaii which gave us a very low background noise level to make our recordings very clear. What you hear on the CD is what the whales hear in Hawaii. A very special thanks goes out to artist Maya Sorum of Hawaii for providing the water color whale image "Baby Humpback" for the CD cover.   Listen to a sound clip or buy the CD.

CD Tracks. All tracks are pure nature sounds. We did not mix in any music on this CD. One of the real challenges to getting clear recordings is due presence of prop noise caused by other boats in the area. This can be especially difficult with the popularity of  "whale watching". No soon than when a whale is spotted on the surface a whale watching boat would motor by thus trashing our recording.

Track one is of a single male humpback whale singing it's courting song. His bass notes will be felt through your body as well as heard in your ears. The occasional "thunking sound" is actually made by the whale. It may be a powerful slapping of it's tail on the surface or a resetting of it's vocal chambers. What do you think?

Track two is of a group of Humpback whales all vocalizing in concert. A clear recording of Humpback whale sounds like we have on this CD is rare.

Track three is of a single Humpback vocalizing. It is very rich in it's tonal harmonic content.

Whale Sounds. Humpback whales produce their loudest underwater sounds in the range of 300 to 700 Hz. This range of frequencies is in the most naturally quite part of the ocean. Below 300 Hz the noise in the ocean increase because of  wave action caused by to wind. Above 700 Hz there are the natural increasing thermal noises plus there is an attenuation of sound transmission as the frequency increases due to the natural mineral composition of sea water. It is believed that the whales use this narrow spectrum for long range communications.  It is possible for their sounds to travel thousands of miles across the oceans.  When we later did a spectrum analysis of their sounds in our lab we were surprised to discovered that their transmitted sounds spectrum reaches well above 700 Hz and in fact have we have recorder frequencies  up to 12,000 Hz in their communications.

whale sounds spectrum

The above sound graft illustrates a Humpback whale note. The horizontal axis is a duration of 1.5 seconds and the vertical axis is from 20 Hz rising to 20,000 Hz at the top. The green color represents ambient background noise of the ocean. Red horizontal lines represent the the loudest parts of the note with yellow being some what softer. As can be seen, this note is quite complex with many tonal coloration's to 16,000 Hz.

The Humpback whale mind has been discovered to be highly complex. The brain of the Humpback whale is 2.5 times larger than a humans. The additional brain size is in the cerebral cortex which is where language, conceptual thought and learning reside. What whales do with this additional brain size is unknown. It is likely that whales have long and complex memories and share information with the other Humpbacks through their songs. This may work well for such a large brain. Who needs books and computers when you can carry it all around in your head. People have been known to term the Humpbacks as the "Akashic record keepers".

Whale Communications. Every winter the Humpbacks travel from Alaska to Hawaii to breed and give birth. The males start "singing" complex "songs" upon arriving to the Hawaiian waters and as the season progresses the songs get longer and more frequent. Sometimes six or more whales can be heard at the same time as on track two of the CD. The song changes through out the season with new themes being introduced and old themes that are changed. Each singer changes it song to keep in "tune" with the other singers and by the end of the season every humpback knows the same song or dare I say "same information". Since only the lone males "sing" during the mating season it is thought that the song may be used to attract females.  Little or no "singing" occurs in the summer months while the whales are in Alaskan waters to feed. Upon returning to Hawaii the song is pickup where it left off  from the previous session.  After a period of 5 years the song is hardly recognizable compared with it's earlier version. Humpbacks do make other sounds that are associated with socially active groups and feeding.

A Typical Eastern Pacific Humpback Whale Year. The sub-adults start arriving in Hawaii from January through the beginning of February and the number of whales observed in Hawaii peaks at the end of February/beginning of March.  During their stay in Hawaii they mate and give birth to their young conceived in the previous season. There are at several  good reasons for this 2,700 mile migration every year to the warm Hawaiian waters. One reason is that their one predator, the Orca, is rarely seen in the tropics thus allowing for a safe environment to mate and conceive. Being in Hawaii allows their new born to conserve calories that are used to maintain a normal body temperature of 90 degrees F. The newborn are given time to learn and bond with their mothers,  plus "put on a little blubber" before entering the colder, more hostile northern waters. Starting  in mid March through the end of April they begin their return journey to the feeding grounds in Alaska. Very few whales are seen  in Hawaii by the end of April. There is an additional breeding ground, a  group of small islands off the southern tip of  Baja Mexico that some of the whales chose instead of Hawaii for their winter vacation.

If you have additional research information that you would like to contribute to this site, interested about further information about whales, would like to support and/or participate in our interspecies communications project please contact us by Email at frank@magicalislandsounds.com. A portion of every purchase of a CD goes towards research in cetacean/human communications.

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