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Published on Nov 29, 2018
Few sounds are more beautiful or moving than the underwater songs of the humpback whale. Male whales compete with their songs, which often last for 10 minutes at a time, and can be repeated for hours on end. Whales separated by thousands of miles of sea will sing almost identical songs. Researchers have found that the songs change throughout the breeding months, following a mysterious pattern repeated across the waves. Whales also use sound to hunt. To catch herring, humpback whales release a stream of bubbles to form a shimmering, circular fishing net. Emitting a repetitive loud scream, they scare the fish into a tight ball, then lunge out of the water to swallow the shoal whole. Now it seems that the long-held image of the gentle giant must change to one of a ferocious and opportunistic hunter.