What are we looking for in the throat?

A blog from Bruce Reidenberg

Pygmy right whale mouth and chin

Pygmy right whale mouth and chin

 The pygmy right whale – chin on. You can see first incisions.

Dr. Joy Reidenberg has examined larynges (voice boxes) of many aquatic and terrestrial mammals.  There are unique adaptations of whales to life in the water.  One of these adaptations is the use of sound.  Whales tend to make two types of sound: a high frequency sonar to examine their environment and a low frequency series of sounds that are used to communicate between individuals and groups.  Very little is known about pygmy right whales’ sound production. 

Since Dr. Joy Reidenberg has examined larynges of many species of whales whose sound production is well described, evaluating the anatomy of pygmy right whales may show similarities or differences with species that are better known.  From this anatomical relationships, the types of sound made by pygmy right whales may be estimated.  Then other scientists listening to whale recordings may be able to validate the guesses over time.

     In addition to guessing the types of sound that pygmy right whales might make, Dr. Joy Reidenberg is looking forward to working with Prof. Fordyce, Drs Kemper and Rommel to compare the anatomy we observe over the next few days with fossil whales.  From these comparisons, we expect new insights into understanding how whales have evolved from a land-based ancestor.

4 Responses

  1. Emma @ Te Papa

    Heya Carrie and Jeff

    hope you’ve been to see her in situ and made your own virtual squid to be released in the virtuakl ocean (I named mine Bertha – she looked like a Bertha)

    I will send you the photo – not a clear shot I’m afraid.


  2. Jeff & Carrie - Squid Enthusiasts

    Hi Emma,

    Jeff and Carrie here from the night of the shift. Just wondering if you want to go on a date with us (or Jeff) to talk about squid. And if you could send through the photo of us on Tory St that’d be much appreciated.

    Thanks very much,
    Carrie & Jeff

  3. Emma @ Te Papa

    you are dead right! argh! I’ll fix it asap and then these two comments won’t make sense 🙂

  4. NatureSpace

    The caption below this image says, “Pygmy blue whale…” yet everything else seems to identify it as a pygmy right whale. I just wanted to let you know; because it comes up in a Google image search for pygmy blues. Cheers.


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