Whale songs, with their haunting, ethereal quality, have fascinated humans for decades. And for good reason: not only are they strangely beautiful, but researchers are fairly certain they are meaningful communications.
A family of orcas, also known as ‘killer whales,’ has its own dialect; closely-related families share songs. Pilot whale songs also appear to have the same characteristics. Whale.fm wants you to help researchers understand whale song by cataloging and sorting the different types of sounds you hear. All you need is a computer with speakers or a headset, and a bit of time.
When you visit the site, you’re presented with a large spectrogram (a graphical representation of the shape of the sound), which you can click on to hear the whale sound. Underneath the large spectogram, there are several smaller ones… just listen to each and see if any of them match the first one you heard.
Understanding whale song is key to understanding how whales communicate, relate to one another, and how they respond to their environment. The latter is particularly important, as there is evidence to suggest that human use of sonar may harm underwater creatures; there’s even an ongoing court case about the use of sonar near a right whale calving ground.