A new study conducted by a team of researchers in Japan has found that noise pollution from cargo ships will make humpback whales refrain from producing their eerie, underwater songs.
It should be noted that humpback whales are using this eerie tune to find a partner during mating season, and if they stop singing due to low-frequency shipping noise, it could negatively impact whale population in oceans.
Human interference stops singing of whales
The study jointly conducted by researchers at the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association and Hokkaido University in Japan deployed two underwater recorders in the ocean to capture the whale singing. 26 humpback whales were there in the area where the researchers conducted the experiment, and shockingly when the single passenger-cargo liner passed through the area once per day, these marine creatures stopped singing.
Interestingly, most of these humpback whales chose not to sing even after half an hour since the ship passed by. In whale population, only male whales make these singing noises, while female and calves do not sing.
"Humpback whales seemed to stop singing temporarily rather than modifying sound characteristics of their song under the noise, generated by a passenger-cargo liner. Ceasing vocalization and moving away could be cost-effective adaptations to the fast-moving noise source," wrote the authors in the study report published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Why do whales sing?
Earlier, it was speculated that whales produce eerie song-like sounds just to find mating partners. It should be noted that male humpback whales used to sing alone and while in groups too.
Now, some experts have suggested that whales are producing these sounds to explore their surroundings. Several studies have reported humpback whales changing their songs when they move to a new area in order to match the songs of others around them.
However, even now, scientists could not determine the exact reasons which make these giant beasts sing, as they are pretty difficult to observe.