In an eerie case of life imitating art, the scientific world is abuzz with news that humpback whales have stopped singing. This hits extremely close to the plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In this film, the USS Enterprise finds Earth being attacked by an extremely powerful alien race, which is apparently searching for humpback whales that have gone silent in the Earth's oceans because they've gone extinct.
And while the current news isn't quite this dire, extinction could follow.
A new study shows that humpbacks have gone silent due to human noise that occurs in oceanic shipping lanes, according to Science Daily. The study was published on October 24.
The human activity has created an increase of low-frequency noise in the oceans. Since humpback whales communicate with low-frequency sounds, they are not singing to each other because they can no longer hear one another.
Fewer humpbacks were singing in waters within 1500 feet of shipping lanes. Whales within 3900 feet reduced or stopped their singing altogether. Most of the whales who stopped singing did not start singing again for 30 minutes or more.
Male humpbacks are the only ones who sing, so it's unknown how females and babies are reacting to the human-generated noise.