04 July 2005

Seals 'sing soulful songs'

An Australian researcher had found the males of two seal species in Antarctica woo potential mates by singing complex melodies.

Tracey Rogers of Sydney's Taronga Zoo said leopard seals, which can grow up to three metres long and have razor-sharp rows of teeth, had a sensitive side that belied their aggressive appearance.

"Lone males are like opera singers," Rogers said. "They hang upside down underwater and gently rock back and forth, singing soulful, stylised songs which carry over long distances."

Rogers said the songs of leopard seal males tended to fit into two categories, either a dull repetitive grunt or a complex melody that she said rivalled the beauty of humpback whale songs and could be heard underwater for 40 kilometres.

She said some amorous males sang for up to 13 hours a day in an attempt to find a mate, taking short two-minute breaks between songs.

While leopard seals are solitary animals and sing to find a mate over long distances, Rogers said Weddell seals, which live in colonies, loved an audience.

"Colonial species like Weddell seals are more like jazz singers," she said.

"The males perform on underwater stages in areas frequented by females as they move between their pups and hunting grounds.

"They know where their audience is, they don't have to worry about the signal being carried over long distances, and they don't need to adhere to strict rules.

"So they improvise, introducing new sound types into their diverse array of vocalisations. In their world, agility, finesse and beautiful lyrics are what count."

Source: www.news24.com


Post a Comment

<< Home