When the world sang with whales
It’s fifty years since a discovery which helped found the modern conservation movement. In 1967 an American biologist began listening to a sound from the ocean which he found both spectacular and beautiful. It was the sound of whales. After analysing it, he realised the whales were repeating particular phrases in the same way a bird might, in other words, they were singing. He found the whales composed songs and changed them year after year, most likely in an attempt to attract mates. In 1970 he released an album called ‘Songs of the Humpback Whale’. It went on to become the most successful natural history recording ever made.
Witness speaks to Dr Roger Payne about a discovery that caught the imagination of the world and helped inspire the ‘Save the Whales’ movement.