Scientists have discovered an entirely new population of pygmy blue whales in the Indian Ocean. These gentle giants were able to evade detection for several years despite their size and this was possible by nuclear bomb detector arrays. Their unique acoustic data captured by these arrays revealed it has a unique song that scientists haven’t come across before. The new population of pygmy blue whales named Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda can reach up to a length of 79 feet is named as Chagos population after a group of islands in the Indian Ocean near the group’s lair.
Currently, there are about 5000 to 10000 blue whales that exist in the southern hemisphere compared to the pre-whaling population of 350,000. Those few which remain tend to roam solitarily and spread across a wide geographic area making them easy to miss, adds one of the experts in the study. On another note, one of the lead authors also added that the whale population had drastically reduced to industrial healing which listed them to the brink of extinction but they are recovering slowly. And to estimate their recovery rate, estimating population numbers I very important. That’s where the method of passive acoustic monitoring comes in handy but it has a drawback. It needs multiple hydrophones to be set up in different parts of the ocean to get those recordings. In addition, the Indian ocean only has fewer of these set up so it was very difficult to monitor those whale populations. Therefore, scientists came up with the idea of monitoring them with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) which is an acoustic network that helps to detect underwater nuclear bombings in the ocean. This device gave scientists gave access to a wide area of sound datasets that can help research underwater marine life.
After capturing the sound, scientists realized that this sound was completely new and wasn’t heard before. Scientists say that blue whale songs are simple and are a repetition of the same pattern, but each blue whale subspecies have a distinct sound pattern to itself. In addition, one should also note that the sound frequency of whales, in general, is much below what humans are capable of hearing and sometimes high frequencies that are above our hearing frequency. Therefore, these songs need careful techniques and analysis to devout the exact picture. The chaos song in particular which was identified consists of one complex part and two other simple parts.
Identifying whales that their songs have been a dominant part of the soundscape for the past 18 years said one of the researchers. Researchers are also pretty much confident that this sound definitely belongs to new species and will only be. Matter of time before they find those population. This will also throw light on the size of the global population of whales around the globe so we can formulate ideas to conserve these gentle giants of oceans.
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