American scientists have come up with an initiative to monitor the movement of whales off the coast of California in order to minimize animal collisions with ships. In the Strait of Santa Barbara, dozens of similar incidents, often fatal, are recorded annually. And in order not to waste a lot of resources, biologists suggest simply listening to the whales singing, and they themselves will tell you when and where they are going.
The traditional annual cycle for blue whales includes two periods of migration, from northern waters to the shores of Central America and back. In the summer, the whales feed heavily on krill, gaining weight to prepare for the breeding season. They tell each other by singing where the best feeding conditions are, which gives scientists the opportunity to predict where this or that group will move during the day.
Researchers at Stanford University have been recording and decrypting the singing of whales for five years, matching this data with information from GPS trackers, sonars and other sensors. They found that while the whales stay in one place and feed, the males sing strictly at night, and the females silently listen to their voices. But when it’s time to migrate, the whales start singing during the daytime, and this can happen quite suddenly.
It is important not to miss this signal, as it clearly indicates that a group of large animals is moving. Knowing where and when the whales start will make it easier for observers to track their route in order to provide recommendations on traffic management in the region. Breeding whales and ships in the sea is not so difficult if you listen to what the sea giants.