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How Humpback Whales Communicate?

Humpback whales are one of the most magnificent creatures that exist in our waters and can be found in every ocean in the world. These creatures have dark backs, light bellies and a small hump in front of their dorsal fin — hence the name.

These mammals are well-known for their magical, enchanting songs that travel throughout the ocean. So, in this article, Coral Bay Eco Tours explores Humpback Whales and their style of communication.

Types of communication

Whales communicate using a phenomenon known as echolocation: the bouncing of high-pitched sounds off underwater objects. And there are two methods used by these whales to create sounds:

Vocal Calls – made by releasing noises

Sounds from Surface Behaviour – made from slapping the water surface or other similar behaviours.

What sounds do Humpback whales make?

Communication under the ocean consists of a myriad of sounds — an entire ocean symphony. Humpback whales, like many other whales, produce a number of vocalisations including moans, grunts, blasts, shrieks and groans.

This unique marine mammal, however, is known to be able to create melodic sounds similar to that of human music earning them the title of inveterate composers.

Whale songs are one of the most sophisticated and complex forms of communication. The exact nature of what is being communicated isn’t conclusive, but researchers speculate that one of the reasons could be as a mating call.

Scientists have also discovered that each discreet population of whales sing different songs and have their own patterns of communicating within their social groups. They have also been found to exchange song patterns with different groups as a way of learning.

Can Humpback whales communicate with humans?

Humpback whales and other cetaceans don’t have vocal cords, so at present they can’t actually say any human words. However, research over the years have shown that these creatures are capable of one of the core building blocks of language development in humans: vocal learning and the ability to copy novel sounds.

They have also been expeditions that show whales responding and trying to communicate with free divers around them. At present, there are many research efforts into cracking the whale communication code.

Experience Humpback whales in their natural habitat in Coral Bay

Every year, Humpback whales migrate across Australian waters after a summer of feeding on krill in the Antarctic. They are found in Coral Bay between July and October. We are so very blessed to host these amazing creatures in Ningaloo Reef and give others the opportunity to swim alongside them for an experience like no other.

If you want to get close and personal to these gentle giants, get in touch with Coral Bay Ecotours on +61 (8) 9942 5885 to learn more.


Coral Bay Ecotours is a cruise company specialising in marine interactions with whale sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, turtles & more in the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park.

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