Killer Whale Calls

October 22nd, 2013 | 7 Comments
Mystery and Grace, Travels, Whales
Killer Whales Photo: Carl Safina

Killer Whales
Photo: Carl Safina

The following audio was recorded in early October in Haro Straight off San Juan Island in Washington.  There were about 20 whales or so – if you close your eyes, you can picture the backdrop of a jungle just as easily as the ocean.

A hydrophone was used to capture the sounds, and although it may sound like birds, the recording is only of whale calls.

For more sea sounds, please visit the Salish Sea Hydrophone Network at

7 Responses to “Killer Whale Calls”

  1. Tam says:

    Beautiful! I wonder what they’re saying? It soulds other worldly! Thank you

  2. Jami says:

    Amazing! Any idea yet, of their meaning?

    • carls_crew says:

      No we don’t really understand their meaning. But your comment has prompted a longer answer which I’ll post as another blog entry in a few days.

  3. steph fylpaa says:

    I’M guessing their songs are asonar like navigational tool.Or are they communicating with each other?

  4. Kempton says:

    Wonderfully complex – how do we consider ourselves “superior” in knowledge and importance amidst species like Orca?
    ps: Blackfish on CNN tonight!

    • carls_crew says:

      Yes they are communicating. What they are communicating, no one can yet say. But these are calls, not sonar. Sonar sounds like rapid clicks.

  5. Richard Russell says:

    All Cetacean languages are very complex and are alien to our system of communication. To even begin to understand them we must not attempt to place the same values as our communication. We judge everything by our human intellect and values. Cetaceans are not human and to start a communication system with human values is limiting our understanding of their communication system. In order to be successful in meeting them halfway is to not view them as human like intelligence but to view them with Cetacean intelligence. Cetacean intelligence is evolutionary from millions of years being in the ocean. Our intelligence has evolved from being on land. Our communications are from air and theirs from water. I became interested in Cetacean interspecies communication in 1978 when I read Dr. John C Lilly’s book” Dolphins Humans of the Sea”. I don’t agree with some of his experiments with dolphins, but his work is valuable in understanding them as different and intelligent beings. All animals have intelligence and are conscious but we judge them by our human intelligence which is biased to say the least. In till we get over this biased way of thinking other intelligences on this planet are out of our reach. A good example is Canines. I’m sure you have heard people talk about how smart and human like their dogs are. That is placing human intelligence and values on their pets. Pet Canines are all breed from the wolf. These canines are social and live in packs. Canines evolution has led them to this social order to obey the alpha female and male. This adaptation was for survival of the species. So of course pet dogs will try to please their owners. So the owners place human intelligence on their pets. I have seen crayfish plant moss on rocks. The crayfish would take a section of moss from one rock and plant it on another. Why the crayfish does this is beyond me but it knows what it is doing, and the reason it is doing it. I can only guess why the crayfish does this. Is it a food source? Or is it for camouflage to hide his lair? Nature is wonderful and if we can view it without placing human values on it then we can experience it truly. I scuba dive and have been truly amazed how intelligent are the Cephalopods. The octopi, squids, nautiloids, and cuttlefish are the largest brained mollusk’s. In a few minutes they can open lidded jars with food in them. They seem to study you in their environment and follow you around. Shark are intelligent also just dive with them and study their behavior. They seem to study you as well. So I guess what I’m saying is that we must learn to view the whales and their languages as whale like and not human like.

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