All Things Wild

Why do Humpback Whales Sing? A New Theory (with Dr Eduardo Mercado)

February 08, 2022 Martin Episode 35
All Things Wild
Why do Humpback Whales Sing? A New Theory (with Dr Eduardo Mercado)
Show Notes

Today's interview is with Dr Eduardo Mercado, a professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo in New York. He is interested in how humans and animal brains change when they learn new things, and more specifically to study animal cognition and in particular dolphin cognition. He has come across some startling new evidence that could rewrite a lot of what we know about Humpback whales and large cetaceans alike. Listen in on our interview as we find out Dr Mercado’s answer to “why do Humpback whales sing?”.

Find his research here!

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Important Times:

  • 00:10 Intro
  • 01:15 Welcome Dr Mercado! Please tell us about yourself and what you study
  • 02:00 How did you end up studying dolphins and whales?
  • 04:35 So why do Humpback whales sing?
  • 06:05 Are these like bird songs?
  • 07:55 Other whales sing predictable and similar songs
  • 09:20 Regional differences
  • 11:55 What are the problems with the current accepted theories?
  • 16:50 Humpback mating has never been observed before
  • 18:15 Mating season
  • 22:45 So what do you think they are doing?
  • 27:00 Mapping the ocean’s whales
  • 30:55 What are the sounds they use? Tell us about the songs themselves
  • 32:30 What do you want to happen next with this research?
  • 34:50 Great experiment idea
  • 36:30 Convincing people and standing up to pushback from the scientific community
  • 39:30 Whale ears
  • 42:00 Echolocation controversy
  • 45:55 What are your next steps?
  • 47:40 How can people follow your research?
  • 49:25 Outro