Scientists have been studying whale songs for nearly fifty years, but there are strange things about them we still can’t explain: Only the male whales sing these amazing songs, so it is generally assumed that the song is to attract the attention of females. However, no one has ever seen a female whale approach a singing male. Instead, other males seem to be more interested. When they approach the singer, he stops singing, and the two males go off silently together for a little while, and then they separate. Why? What’s going on?
The humpback whale males are continually changing their song, from month to month and year to year. But each male does not try to distinguish himself by singing differently from his peers. On the contrary, all the whales sing the same tune. If one sings something new, within weeks, all the others have copied him. Why do they need to do this? Why isn’t a fixed song enough?
No one knows.