Why humpbacks sing - and change their tunes too

A new study has found an unexpected singing pattern among humpbacks: Once their songs reach a certain level of complexity, they drop that tune entirely and pick up a new, simpler one.
A new study has found an unexpected singing pattern among humpbacks: Once their songs reach a certain level of complexity, they drop that tune entirely and pick up a new, simpler one.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sometimes a whale just wants to change its tune.

That's one of the things researchers have learned recently by eavesdropping on whales in several parts of the world and listening for changes in their pattern and pitch. Together, the new studies suggest that whales are not just whistling in the water, but constantly evolving a form of communication that we are only beginning to understand.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2019, with the headline 'Why humpbacks sing - and change their tunes too'. Print Edition | Subscribe