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Pygmy blue whales deepen their moans

Scientists can’t explain steady decline in vocalization frequencies

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9:00am, June 3, 2016
Pygmy blue whale

SING LOW  Pygmy blue whales (one pictured) off the coast of Sri Lanka are changing their calls. Over a decade, one call component has steadily gotten deeper. 

SALT LAKE CITY — In the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka, pygmy blue whales are changing their tune — and they might be doing it on purpose.

From 2002 to 2012, the frequency of one part of the whales’ calls steadily fell, marine bioacoustician Jennifer Miksis-Olds reported May 25 at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. But unexpectedly, another part of the whales’ call stayed the same, she found.

“I’ve never seen results like this before,” says marine bioacoustician Leanna Matthews of Syracuse University in New York, who was not involved with the work. Miksis-Olds’ findings add a new twist to current theories about blue whale vocalizations and spark all sorts of questions about what the animals are doing, Matthews said. “It’s a huge mystery.”

Over the last 40 to 50 years, the

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