Listen&Learn: Whale Songs

Jaksyn Peacock
Learn some different theories about why whales sing.
whale songs

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • dispute: disagreement about a certain topic
  • attract: to draw someone’s attention
  • navigate: to find a safe and easy route to travel
  • echo: a sound that repeats after it bounces off a surface
  • estimate: to make a reasonable guess

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

One of the strangest in the ocean is the song of a whale. There is still a lot of dispute about why whales sing. Some scientists believe that they are trying to attract mates. Others think that whale songs are a form of communication, almost like a . This is because individual whales sing with the same sound patterns as other whales in the area. They also learn different sound patterns when they whales from different areas. It’s also possible that singing helps whales to navigate. After all, it is very difficult to see underwater. Whale songs can be for humans, too. Scientists have started to use whale songs to oceans. They do this by measuring the time it takes to hear an echo. This helps them to estimate the depth of the ocean floor.

Comprehension questions

1. There is dispute about

Correct! Wrong!

There is dispute about why whales sing at all.

2. When whales travel to new areas,

Correct! Wrong!

When whales travel to new areas, they learn new sound patterns.

3. Whale songs are useful for humans because

Correct! Wrong!

Whale songs are useful for humans because they help scientists map the ocean.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Today, humans are making a lot of noise in the ocean. Shipping and underwater construction are some causes of this. This makes it harder for scientists to study the sounds that whales make. Do you think it’s possible for humans to reduce noise pollution in the ocean?

Transcript

One of the strangest sounds in the ocean is the song of a whale. There is still a lot of dispute about why whales sing. Some scientists believe that they are trying to attract mates. Others think that whale songs are a form of communication, almost like a language. This is because individual whales sing with the same sound patterns as other whales in the area. They also learn different sound patterns when they meet whales from different areas. It’s also possible that singing helps whales to navigate. After all, it is very difficult to see underwater. Whale songs can be useful for humans, too. Scientists have started to use whale songs to map oceans. They do this by measuring the time it takes to hear an echo. This helps them to estimate the depth of the ocean floor.

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub

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