Study finds world’s smallest killer whale has rich music tracks

The world’s smallest killer whale has surprisingly complex musical tracks, according to a new study led by scientists at The University of Curtin in Australia. Scientists’ records of the Ross Sea killer whales, which live in McMurdo Bay in Antarctica, show that they have 28 different complex sounds, combined with burst squeals and whistles.

Study finds world's smallest killer whale has rich music tracks

Just as there are many different breeds of dogs, killer whales have different types, not only living in different areas, but also different diets, habits and songs. Using data collected in 2012 and 2013, the new Curtin team, led by Rebecca Wellard, a doctoral candidate at the Curtin Center for Marine Science and Technology (CMST), conducted a detailed analysis of the Ross Sea killer whale, which is classified as a Type C of the species. It is difficult to collect information about hunting grounds because of their remoteness and harsh polar climate.

Study finds world's smallest killer whale has rich music tracks

“In Antarctic waters, there are five different types of killer whales, of which type C is the smallest, with a body length of 6.1 meters (20 feet), while a male killer whale can grow up to nearly 10 meters (33 feet),” will we dare said. Recording of nine separate encounters between sub-adults and calves. We were able to recognize that the sound of a Type C killer whale is multi-component, which means that many sounds are converted from bursts of pulsed sound to whistling. We also found that 39% of call types start with a series of broadband pulses. “

Killer whales’ “songs” usually include short, sharp sounds, whistles and pulse calls for navigation, identification of prey and social interaction. Some types of animals, such as those that hunt marine mammals, are relatively silent because their prey can hear the whale’s “singing”, but the Ross Sea killer whale has an unusually rich track – especially when hunting under the ice.

Study finds world's smallest killer whale has rich music tracks

“In these calls, there are often two sounds that occur at the same time, also known as two-tone syllables, ” says Mr Willard. These types of sounds can be used to locate other members of the whale population. Because of the changing habitat of McMurdo Bay, minke whales may also use vocal calls to communicate with their families. Our findings are the first step towards comparing and distinguishing the acoustics of C-type killer whales and other killer whale populations in the southern hemisphere. “

The study was published in the journal Open Science of the Royal Society.