Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Episode 92 (December 12, 2011): Whale Sounds

Click to listen to episode (2:19).

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of December 12, 2011.

This week we feature more mystery sounds.  Have a listen for about for about 25 seconds and see if you can guess what kind of mammal is making the swishing sounds and then the strange cries.  And here’s a hint: take a deep breath, sing a song, and think big!


If you guessed whales, you’re right!  The first sounds were the spouting that occurs when resurfacing whales breathe through their blowhole, which is a nostril on top of their head.  The second sounds were a Humpback Whale breeding song.  As many as 15 species of whales—including six species on the federal Endangered Species List—are believed to pass by Virginia’s coast at least occasionally.  For example, sightings of migrating Fin and Humpback whales—both of which are endangered—are the hoped-for prize of wildlife-watching cruises that run out of Virginia Beach from December to March.  Accidental ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, reduction of prey, and habitat disturbances are some of the main threats to the endangered whale species that pass by Virginia.  Thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to the National Park Service for making this week’s sounds available for public use.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

Acknowledgments: The whales recording was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sound Clips Web site at http://www.fws.gov/video/sound.htm (available for public use).  The Humpback Whale vocalization is a National Park Service recording made available for public use on the “Community Audio” page of the Internet Archive Web site, at http://www.archive.org/details/HumpbackWhalesSongsSoundsVocalizations (12/13/11).  Some of this week’s sounds and information were previously included in Virginia Water Radio Episode 21 (week of June 14, 2010). 

Sources: Information on whale species found in waters off Virginia’s coast was taken from The Marine Mammals of Virginia (with notes on identification and natural history), by Robert A. Blaylock, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, 1985; online at http://nsgd.gso.uri.edu/vsgcp/vsgcpe85001.pdf.  Information on federally endangered whale species was taken from the National Marine Fisheries Service Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/ (12/12/11) and from A Guide to Endangered and Threatened Species in Virginia, by Karen Terwilliger and John Tate (Blacksburg, Va.: McDonald and Woodward, 1995).  Information about whale watching trips off Virginia Beach is available from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center Web site.

Recent Virginia Water News
For news relevant to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at http://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/.

Water Meetings and Other Events
For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at http://virginiawaterevents.wordpress.com/. The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.