The Whale's Moo Rock Formation, between Portknockie and Cullen
World Whale Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
“The whales do not sing because they have an answer, they sing because they have a song.” ~ Gregory Colbert, Ashes in Snow (2005)
Scientists studying humpback whale songs in 2011 discovered something very odd. The rise and decline of an individual whale’s song is very much like that of a pop song. In any area shared by whales, everyone sings the same song. Over time, the song will change, and if the new song is catchy enough, it will spread to other populations of whales. When a new whalesong comes out, it’s sometimes a sort of remix of the previous song!
The Whale's Moo
World Whale Day, originating in Maui, Hawaii in 1980, originated with the Pacific Whale Foundation, to raise awareness to protect humpback whales and their ocean habitat through fun and inspiring events.
Once relentlessly hunted for their products, whales are now protected by international law.
Whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to the order Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates and their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged about 40 million years ago!
Whales produce a great variety of vocalizations, notably the extended songs of the humpback whale.
Whale vocalization is likely to serve several purposes. Some species, such as the humpback whale, communicate using melodic sounds, known as whale song or clicks.
Toothed whales, including dolphins, rely on the short wave lengths of high-frequency sounds for super-specific echolocation. The way the sound waves bounce off of nearby objects allows the whales to detect nearby prey with remarkable detail—they can even sense the texture of the fish they’re “looking” at. Baleen whales, on the other hand, make very low frequency sounds with large wavelengths that don’t pick up on those fine details. The benefit is that low frequencies can travel long distances and not degenerate. This allows baleen whales like humpbacks to communicate with one another over very large distances.
Blue whales are thought to be the loudest creatures on Earth. At 188 decibels, their loudest vocalizations can be heard hundreds of miles away and is louder than a jet, which peaks at only 140 decibels.
Captive whales have occasionally been known to mimic human speech!
Whale's Moo is a rock formation along the Moray coastline in Portknockie. The huge stack is connected to another formation by a sloping rock arch, variously described as a sinking ship, bow and fiddle or a whale's tail. Variously called the Whale's Mouth, Whale's Moo, or Faal's Moo - it resembles the open mouth of a singing whale.
For more fascinating facts about whales, click the the tartan whale from Sean Lander's tartan animals exhibition from 2014, highlighting the perils and endangerment of certain species.
And for a whale-free cocktail, click here for a "Blue Whale Cocktail" for a tropical concoction of pineapple and citrus juices, vodka, and blue curacao. Here's to the whales!