The prince of whales
The Music Maker opinion

The prince of whales

It would be such a thrill if studying whale song brought us to a deeper understanding of mother nature in general and the oceans in particular, writes Peter Edgerton

Friday, 12 April 2024, 16:44


At the time of writing, there's a humpback whale swimming about somewhere off the south-east coast of Alaska being roundly laughed at by his chums as he regales them of tales about the time six human scientists who engaged him in a somewhat fraught conversation.

"No, no really, lads – they played this recording at me through some speakers on the bottom of the boat. It sounded like they'd captured the sound of that young whale from North Alaska singing his reggaeton music so I told them to put a sock in it, obviously, but that just seemed to get them even more excited and they repeated it twenty six times over the next half hour despite my pleas for mercy. That was back in 2021 and I'm still nauseous to this day."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever, Wally."

"My name's not Wally any more – it's Twain. That's what the scientists christened me. I rather think it rather suits me, don't y... Lads? Lads? Wait for me.."

Poor Twain. Nobody believes him. All of this really did happen though and now scientists are analysing the humpback chat to see if they can glean any more information as to what it is that concerns these magnificent creatures as they shoot the whale song breeze across entire ocean basins using a varied combination of 'whup' and 'throp' sounds.

I do hope this research one day bears fruit although the team involved has expressed a hope that their work might also one day help us to understand aliens from outer space which, let's be honest, is a bit of a worry.

It would be such a thrill, though, if studying whale song brought us to a deeper understanding of mother nature in general and the oceans in particular.

Some of these pining calls are so intrinsically beautiful that every fibre of your being wants to believe that they have some deep, spiritual element to them rather than being merely an overly complex range of ways of saying, 'Come on, there's more fish over here, boys'.

So, good luck to the Seti team who are leading the investigations. If they were to proceed to the next level of discovery, I think the first thing they should do is take a trip to south-east Alaska, find Twain and give him an in-depth interview about his opinions on everything from geo-politics to the Beckhams.

Man, I'd love to see the look on his whale friends' faces.

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