Blue whales produce regionally-distinct songs. In over a decade since McDonald and colleagues published a summary of biogeographic differences in blue whale songs worldwide, multiple new publications have explored the seasonality and distribution of those songs. We review the spatial and temporal occurrence of previously-defined song types and report several new blue whale song types. At least thirteen songs believed to be produced by blue whales are now known worldwide, five more than reported in the previous review. In the North Pacific Ocean there are three blue whale songs: the well-studied Northeast Pacific song, the Central North Pacific (previously called Northwest and North Pacific) song, and a new song recorded off Hokkaido, Japan. There is spatial overlap of the Northeast Pacific and Central North Pacific songs in the Gulf of Alaska. Similarly, the new song co-occurs with the Central North Pacific song off Hokkaido. Only one blue whale song occurs in the North Atlantic. At least nine songs are present in the Southern Hemisphere. The Antarctic blue whale song is the most widely distributed, occurring in the Southern Ocean as well as seasonally extending into the other oceans of the Southern Hemisphere. The Indian Ocean has the largest variety of blue whale songs, with new data suggesting the Southwest Indian Ocean song should have type locality Madagascar, with Diego Garcia possibly another song-type. Southeast Pacific contains two distinct, co-occurring songs. We report a new song in the South Atlantic, near South Georgia Island, that also occurs seasonally off Ascension Island. Occasionally blue whale songs were recorded outside of their reported range, indicating individuals at times roam more broadly. However, this is not a common occurrence. This new information and finer details of occurrence will enable further development of hypotheses for blue whale population structure based on acoustics.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut