Wops, thwops, grumbles and squeaks are part of the extensive whale
repertoire recorded by scientists from the University of Queensland
working on the Humpback Whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC)
Recording whale sounds over a three-year period, scientists discovered at least 34 different types of whale calls, with data published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
"I was expecting to find maybe 10 different social vocalizations, but in actual fact found 34. It's just such a wide, varied repertoire," University of Queensland researcher Rebecca Dunlop told Reuters.
The researchers studied migrating east humpback whales, as they traveled up and down Australia's east coast, and recorded 660 sounds from 61 different groups.
Researchers attached audio transmitters to buoys near the whales and monitored the whale interaction from the shore.
Many of the whale sounds could overlap in meaning, said Dunlop, but some had clear meanings.
A purr by males appeared to signify the male was trying his luck to mate a desirable female. High frequency cries and screams were associated with disagreements, when males jostled to escort females during migration, she said.