Scientists have managed to capture up to 26,545 blue whale songs in the Antarctic in a study for which they used – for the first time – new acoustical detection and tracking techniques to locate and observe the huge cetaceans.
The work was carried out by researchers from 11 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the U.S., all of whom are participating in the ongoing Antarctic Blue Whale Project to study the world's largest animal.
Some 18 experts in acoustics and in classification of whales, as well as engineers and observers, departed in January on a seven-week trip to the Ross Sea with the mission to deploy acoustic devices —known as sonobuoys— to study the population, distribution and behavior of the whales.
The result was 626 hours of audio registered in real time including 26,545 songs — or vocalizations — produced by the gigantic beasts, according to the project's head acoustician, Brian Miller, with the Australian Antarctic Division.
The blue whale — or Balaenoptera musculus — makes a very deep and resonant call that can be captured underwater hundreds of miles away, Miller said in a statement.
The International Whaling Commission has calculated that in 2000 the population of blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere was between 400 and 1,400.
Blue whales are the largest animals on earth, growing up to 31 meters (about 100 feet) long and weighing 170,000 kg (about 190 tons) or more
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