Mon, Apr 25, 2011 - Page 14 News List

Whales can’t resist a catchy pop tune: study
研究:鯨魚版流行音樂 魅力無法擋

A Humpback whale is seen off the shores of Provincetown, Massachusetts on Aug. 5 last year.

Photo: AFP

Humpback whales love a good hit single, and every year a new catchy pop tune spreads among the male underwater crooners, said an Australian study released on April 14.

The males are the only ones who sing, likely in the hopes of making some lady whale swoon, according to the research published in the US journal Current Biology.

If there is a whale version of the King of Pop, he likely resides off the coast of eastern Australia, because that is where the popular tune of the season has always originated for the past decade, researchers said.

The hit-making tune then ripples eastward across the South Pacific Ocean, from Australia to French Polynesia, infecting genetically distinct groups of whales who all start singing the same song during breeding season.

In typical pop music fashion, the tunes are not all that original most of the time, said researcher Ellen Garland, a graduate student at The University of Queensland.

“It would be like splicing an old Beatles song with U2,” Garland said. “Occasionally they completely throw the current song out the window and start singing a brand new song.”

The 11-year study described itself as the “first documentation of a repeated, dynamic cultural change occurring across multiple populations at such a large geographic scale.”

What remains a mystery is why the whales all sing the same song, when presumably their efforts are meant to make them stand out from the pack.

“We think this male quest for song novelty is in the hope of being that little bit different and perhaps more attractive to the opposite sex,” said Garland.

“This is then countered by the urge to sing the same tune, by the need to conform.”



1. catchy adj.

好聽易記的 (hao3 ting1 yi4 ji4 de5)

例: That’s a catchy tune. Whenever I hear it, I just can’t help but sing along, and it gets stuck in my head for hours.


2. ripple v.

擴散 (kuo4 san4)

例: The singer’s popularity quickly rippled across the globe as his latest hit song spread to more and more countries.


3. quest n.

追求 (zhui1 qiu2)

例: Their team is on a quest to win the cheerleading world championships next year.













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