Unravelling The Mysteries of Whale Song



Close to 50 years ago,  the first recordings were were made of the strange and haunting ways whales communicate, during the 1977 NASA probes of outer space.

We now know much more about whale song, which zooms through the ocean five times faster than the speed of sound through air.

French film maker Jean-Albert Lievre has made an astonishing film helping us to better understand these underwater giants and their vital communication tool.

Whale Nation takes your breath away with its lyrical photography and surprising revelations about the complexities of whale song.




While much of their communication remains a mystery, we now know each whale has its own individual version of whale song that can be heard 1000 kilometres away, acting as a social network transmitting whales’ knowledge from generation to generation.

Whale Nation, inspired by Heathcote Williams’s book of the same name, is full of astonishing facts about whales – but even without that, it is worth seeing for its poetic beauty and the technical brilliance of the camerawork.

We learn that whales swim at 80 kmh, that they have the world’s largest brains, that they can hunt for giant squid 3000 metres deep, at depths which would crush a submarine.



In 18 different locations across the world’s oceans, Lievre and his team used  scuba videography deep under the surface, top drones and powerful zoom lenses from boats and shorelines to achieve this exquisite footage.

They capture whale courtship and mating, and mothers feeding their offspring – with milk so rich in fat that the baby can gain more than 45kg a day.

In one touching sequence, we see a humpback whale beached on a remote shore with a team of rescuers determined to save it.

They keep it moist, running and backwards through the waves with countless bucketsful of water, and protect it from sunburn by draping it with many metres of fabric fetched from anywhere they can find.



In the end there is triumph as the rescued whale swims freely out to sea.

With no natural predators, whales were unprepared for the slaughter inflicted by humans seeking whale oil and other products.

Whales died cruelly, in their hundreds of thousands – and even today, with whale hunting banned in most of the world, whales face new threats from oceans polluted by plastics and other rubbish.

This is a film with a powerful environmental message.

* Whale Nation runs from Thursday, February 15, to Sunday, February 18, at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX and Luna Outdoors.

Watch the trailer…