The Walruses’ Unexpected Sound

Heres a program from our archives.ambience, walrusWalruses are among the most striking marine mammals in appearance. They also make some of the most extraordinary sounds heard underwater. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Sjare: What’s really interesting about walrus vocalizations is that they emit these knocks and taps in very specific sequences and that these sequences are then repeated over and over. Similar to the way a robin would sit up in a tree and sing its song several times throughout the day, well similar with the male walrus. He repeats this same song over and over every day for the duration of the breeding season.Becky Sjare is with the Canadian Wildlife Service. She’s been studying the sounds made by the Atlantic walrus and notes that, while there are both short and long vocalization, a common song has emerged.Sjare: It’s quite amazing to think that the classic pattern of each of the two songs has remained consistent since about 1982. There are minor variations, but it’s not like the Humpback Whale song where you see quite substantial changes from one year to the next.Walking along on the sea ice and being able to hear walruses vocalizing right beneath your feet and having the sound sort of transmit up through the ice, it’s a very eerie feeling to be out sort of in the middle of nowhere and yet hear all these sounds coming at you from all sorts of directions, and not being able to pinpoint what’s going on.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.

The Walruses' Unexpected Sound

The percussive vocalizations of the walrus are a striking component of the underwater soundscape.
Air Date:11/16/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

Heres a program from our archives.ambience, walrusWalruses are among the most striking marine mammals in appearance. They also make some of the most extraordinary sounds heard underwater. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Sjare: What's really interesting about walrus vocalizations is that they emit these knocks and taps in very specific sequences and that these sequences are then repeated over and over. Similar to the way a robin would sit up in a tree and sing its song several times throughout the day, well similar with the male walrus. He repeats this same song over and over every day for the duration of the breeding season.Becky Sjare is with the Canadian Wildlife Service. She's been studying the sounds made by the Atlantic walrus and notes that, while there are both short and long vocalization, a common song has emerged.Sjare: It's quite amazing to think that the classic pattern of each of the two songs has remained consistent since about 1982. There are minor variations, but it's not like the Humpback Whale song where you see quite substantial changes from one year to the next.Walking along on the sea ice and being able to hear walruses vocalizing right beneath your feet and having the sound sort of transmit up through the ice, it's a very eerie feeling to be out sort of in the middle of nowhere and yet hear all these sounds coming at you from all sorts of directions, and not being able to pinpoint what's going on.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.