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Only male fin whales sing loud songs

Naturevolume 417page809 (2002) | Download Citation


These mammals need to call long-distance when it comes to attracting females.


The low-frequency vocalizations of fin and blue whales are the most powerful and ubiquitous biological sounds in the ocean1,2. Here we combine acoustic localization and molecular techniques to show that, in fin whales, only males produce these vocalizations. This finding indicates that they may function as male breeding displays, and will help to focus concern on the impact of human-generated low-frequency sounds on recovering whale populations.

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Author information


  1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Center for Ocean Health, University of California, Santa Cruz, 95060, California, USA

    • Donald A. Croll
    • , Bernie Tershy
    •  & Jason Gedamke
  2. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Bioacoustics Research Program, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, 14850, New York, USA

    • Christopher W. Clark
  3. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 94118, California, USA

    • Alejandro Acevedo
  4. Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, AP 19-B, La Paz, 23080, BCS, Mexico

    • Sergio Flores
    •  & Jorge Urban


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Donald A. Croll.

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