Like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Prince, humpback whales have had viral hits. Iin the 1950s, at a submarine listening station in Bermuda, US Navy engineer Frank Watlington recorded their vocalizations. In 1967, bioacoustician Roger Payne produced an album of whale songs from those recordings that sold millions of copies - ultimately going multi-platinum, and becoming a catalyst for the 1982 global moratorium on commercial whaling. Now, humpback whales are picking up new songs from adjacent populations and spreading them from the west coast of Australia to the waters of Polynesia, and further to the coast of Ecuador. Looking at recordings over 11 years, Dr. Ellen Garland found 8 different song types that had eastward virality, with 4 making their way from Eastern Australia to French Polynesia. Like those very first recordings, this shows us that more complexity than we can ever understand is happening in the natural world.

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