Humpback whale migration and song patterns

October 3, 2019

Humpback whales are one of the four most common species seen on our tours in Faxaflói Bay, and we are constantly learning more about them thanks to new scientific research!

One of the latest studies shows that we can estimate where a humpback whale has been based on the different songs (and hybrid songs) they ‘sing’. Humpback whales migrate and can travel great distances in order to reach feeding grounds or breeding areas. As they travel and encounter whales from other parts of the world they pick up bits and pieces from other humpback whale songs. Feeding grounds, breeding areas or migratory routes are all places where new songs and information can be passed between the whales.

A study published earlier this year recorded 52 humpback whales in the South Pacific, around islands that have been identified as a major crossroads along migratory paths for humpback whales. Based on the recordings, the researchers were able to identify the places that the whales had originally come from. They later confirmed their data using photo identification and genetic markers. This shows that humpback whales learn songs and transmit information in locations where they meet, and indicates that their migration can be traced through songs.

You can read more about this study – and listen to the songs recorded – on the blog from Whales of Iceland.

You can also book a Whale Watching Adventure with us during your visit to Iceland.