Human Nature, 28th October 2018

Off the coast of a remote island in the South Pacific, a team of scientists and volunteers recently gathered on a boat to hear this year’s hit song.

The singers, in this case, are endangered Oceania humpback whales near the island of Niue, where they are considered sacred — and are a key to understanding the status of migratory marine species amid a changing climate.

A new series of videos created by New Zealand filmmaker Richard Sidey follows the team as they collect data about migratory Oceania humpback whales in the waters of Niue, which became a national whale sanctuary in 2003 and recently declared 40 percent of its ocean territory a large-scale marine protected area. The male humpback’s song — an example of the largest-scale documented cultural learning experience outside of the human race — is recorded using a hydrophone, or underwater microphone.

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