(You’ll need RealAudio.)

We now know that only male humpbacks sing, that all the whales in a region sing the same “song,” and that the song changes each year. But why?

Alex Chadwick dived for answers with experts in Hawaii. Join them—and the whales—in the broadcast.


How do you record humpbacks? “Get the microphone in the right place and push the record button,” advises Alex Chadwick. “But first,” he adds helpfully, “you have to find the whale and put the microphone as close as you can get.” And get close he did. Straining for a glimpse, Chadwick stumbled from his boat and slipped into the blue realm of the behemoth and its “great radiant song.”

Get close in The Story Behind the Story.

Play a page from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC history: Songs of the Humpback Whale, the 1979 sound sheet that made millions of readers put down their magazines and listen.