First Orcasound recording of humpback song in Haro during January!

This evening Val and Leslie Veirs of the Orcasound Lab node reported hearing humpback whale sounds. Here is a sample of what they heard live:

Haro humpback sound sample

The associated spectrogram below shows these humpback calls last up to ~5-seconds and have most of their power at frequencies between 200 and 3000 Hz.

While humpback have been making a slow but steady comeback within the Salish Sea from when whalers extirpated them, the chronology of recent humpback sightings and hearings within the Salish Sea suggests humpbacks were previously only heard vocalizing in October-December. This observations begs some intriguing questions:

  • Will we hear any humpback vocalization in February?
  • Given that humpbacks have been sighted within the Salish sea in January (2017) and then again as early as March (2015) or April (2016), are some individuals remaining within the Salish Sea year-round?
  • And of those individuals, are some continuing to vocalize? An alternative hypothesize regarding the fall “singers” is that they are just warming up within the Salish Sea as they depart for the breeding grounds in the tropical Pacific (off Hawaii, Mexico, and/or Central America) where they famously emit much longer sequences of sounds, aka humpback whale song.
A humpback whale breaches in Haro Strait. (Credit, 2011)

Pending further bioacoustic analysis, here is the full 19-minute recording for your enjoyment, starting from about 18:00 on Tuesday, January 7, 2020:

Haro humpback sound recording (19:05)

6 thoughts on “First Orcasound recording of humpback song in Haro during January!

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      If you mean how can you listen to a recent recording, that is a feature we’re working on… For now, keep an eye on the Orcasound blog where bioacoustic experts often provide recordings and analysis shortly after live events occur.

  1. Paul Morton says:

    Wonderful capture. Intriguing about the time of year though…however, with all else that is climate driven these days, can there possibly be a correlation between their (extended) presence and that of their food sources? I read recently about a newly discovered Hybridized salmon discovered off Vancouver Island (between Chinook and Coho, if memory serves). The theory – they may be overlapping their spawning seasons, due primarily to climate driven lower waters in a number of the known spawning rivers in the region in the later parts of year. Thoughts? Thanks.

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      We hadn’t heard that idea, Paul, but it seems sensible. There’s growing evidence that the Salish Sea humpbacks are after krill as well as forage fish, so climate could definitely be connected to the humpback comeback via the lower parts of the local food chain.

  2. Kathie Eberhart says:

    So lovely of you to share these beautiful sounds!! Thank you for your dedication!😊

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