While there are only about 5,000 blue whales left in the world, a new population of blue whales has been discovered in the Indian Ocean thanks to bomb detectors.
Known for their singing, the blue whales were recorded by underwater microphones used to detect bombs.
Using underwater microphones to investigate nuclear bomb tests since 2002, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) noticed the different frequencies, tempos and structures of the powerful song signals in their recordings. After the researchers analyzed the data, they realized they had stumbled upon a new population of blue whales in the area.
SMALL BUT CROWDED
“We found a whole new group of blue whales right in the middle of the Indian Ocean,” said Tracey Rogers, a professor and marine ecologist at the University of New South Wales. “We don’t know how many whales are in this group, but given the enormous number of calls we’ve heard, we suspect they are too many,” he said. And he continued as follows:
“Studying blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere is difficult; because they live in the open sea and they don’t jump around. “I think it’s pretty cool that the same system that protects the world from nuclear bombs allows us to find new populations of whales, which could help us study the health of the marine environment in the long run.”
Blue whales can reach a length of 30 meters and a weight of about 200 tons in some cases, although smaller ones can reach 23 meters in length and weigh around 90 tons. Songs from blue whales can also travel great distances, estimated to be between 200 and 500 km.
Rogers states that they do not know yet whether the blue whales, one of the most remarkable creatures of the underwater species, were born knowing these songs or whether they learned them later:
“Without these audio recordings, we wouldn’t have known that there was such a large population of blue whales in the middle of the Indian Ocean’s equator.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of News2Sea.
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