A series of highlight excerpts from The Oceania Project collection, selected by NFSA Sound curator, Tessa Elieff.
"My parents are PhD marine scientists and we’ve been carrying out research since 1988 documenting the recovery of the East Australian Humpback whales. They were near extinction when I was born in the 1960s due to whaling. There were only about 100 left of a pre-whaling population of 60,000. Now they have recovered to 27,000 which is really good news...... My main aim has been to document the evolution of the whale song over time. Each year the whales all sing the same song ‘by heart’ as it were. And every year they modify the song slightly and so the syntax evolves over time. Therefore I’ve been extremely meticulous in ensuring that the exact syntax is preserved. A team of scientists from the University of Hawaii have created an application to asses the entropy of the song and have compared that entropy or inherent information content to a range of human languages. They have concluded that the information content of the whale song is equivalent to human languages.
So in maintaining the exact syntax, even though we as humans cannot yet understand the language, I am hoping that future generations of research scientists will use my master files to finally decipher their meaning."
- Mark Franklin, 2017.