Though 2019’s song of the summer is still a matter of debate, humpback whales may have already settled on their seasonal soundtrack. The whale version of “Old Town Road” is a bit less melodic, with moans, groans and whistles replacing the 808 drums and “horses in the back,” but that hasn’t barred it from viral success — at least among whales in the south Pacific Ocean.
In an exclusive clip from the first episode of Nat Geo’s new podcast, “Overheard at National Geographic,” host Vaughn Wallace talks to the magazine’s marine photographer Brian Skerry and whale researcher Ellen Garland about the “humpback hit factory.” It turns out that these giant cetaceans might appreciate a good earworm just as much as the average Spotify user.
“Humpbacks are big-time conformists when it comes to their musical taste. In fact, if you’re listening in on a male singing, there’s a 99 percent chance he’s singing basically the same song that you’d hear from every other male in that population,” says Wallace in the clip.
But the whale version of American Idol is only the first topic of interest for Wallace and his team. The new podcast series aims to bring listeners into the conversations overheard at the National Geographic office. Each short episode will feature a new topic, bringing in the expertise and experience of the magazine’s adventurous contributors to further understand the outer edges of science and nature.
The show’s eight-episode, eight-week season will kick off tomorrow with a full episode on the viral hits of the whale world and continue to release new episodes every Tuesday.
Listen to the podcast here.