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What Do Humpback Whales Sound Like?

an animal swimming in the water

Every year hundreds of humpback whales migrate from Alaska and Canada down through the Pacific Ocean end around the island of Kauai. These majestic creatures spend several months in Kauai. In the cold waters of Kauai, the whales mate, breed, and give birth to new calves.

Humpback whales are a major part of Kauai’s history. Legend has it that humpback whales guided the very first Polynesians to Kauai and showed them a path of safe passage. As such, humpback whales are considered to be the animal form of Kanaloa, God of the Oceans. Additionally, aumakua, the ancestral spirits who still inhabit the island and protect families from danger, are believed to take the form of animals, especially whales. For these reasons, whales are sacred.

If you’re visiting Kauai between December and March, you can go whale watching. Whale-watching cruises are a great way to see these beautiful creatures at a close but respectful distance. While whale watching, you may be lucky enough to hear the sound of humpback whales and listen to their song.

You may wonder, what does a humpback whale sound like? Keep reading below to learn more about humpback whale sounds and their beautiful songs.

Humpback Whale Sounds & Songs

Like much of the animal kingdom, humpback whales emit a variety of sounds to signal joy, mating, and danger. They grunt, groan, shriek, and even make a low-toned guttural roar.

The sounds humpback whales make are called songs. These often include repeated noises and rhythms and can last for a few minutes in some cases and hours in other situations. However, humpback whale songs get even more fascinating. Male humpback whales are the only humpback whales who can sing and the male humpback whales in the same pack sing the same song each breeding season. The song will often change by the next year.

If you were to look at the acoustics of animal calls, the sound waves generally are either a high frequency or a low frequency. Humpback whale songs include both high-frequency or low-frequency sound waves. Lower frequency sounds travel farther through water than high-frequency noises, so whale songs can be heard from very far away.

However, as humans, we can’t always hear the lower frequency of sounds that whales make. Though, whales have a wide range of audible frequencies in their acoustics, which is why we can hear part of the song.

Humpback Whales Song Meaning

While humpback whales may make a variety of noises such as groaning or grunting to signal different things to the herd, their song is thought to serve a very particular purpose. Scientists have noticed that humpback whales tend to sing during mating season in particular. Whether the whale song is a mating call is yet to be determined since scientists have been unable to prove it. In fact, scientists have deemed this question impossible to answer.

It’s also believed that the humpback whale song is used to communicate the strength of a particular male to the females in the area during the breeding season.

Some also believe that whales treat their songs very similarly to the way humans treat music. This is because whale songs change from year to year but most packs of humpback whales will sing the same song.

Whales Sound Like Some Land-Mammals

Biologists and zoologists have noticed similarities in the noises produced by hoofed land animals, such as the moo of a cow or the bugling of elk. The varied frequency of the noise as well as the rhythmic pattern are very similar.

See Humpback Whales Up Close

From December through March, humpback whales migrate to the south shores of the gorgeous island of Kauai. These magnificent gentle giants visit Kauai to mate, breed, and birth their young, and is a beautiful sight to behold.

Join us for an adventure to see the humpback whales at a safe, respectful distance and listen to the fascinating, hauntingly beautiful whale songs. We offer 2-hour cruises with daily departures at 1pm and 3:45pm, and complimentary beer, wine, and mai tais are included. We also offer individually prepared and packaged wraps.

This experience is the perfect way to spend time with family and learn more about humpback whales. Book your whale-watching cocktail cruise.

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