Truthfulness Illustrated in the World of Nature

Living Lessons from the Humpback Whale

3 min
Listen to this nature story:

A startling sound reverberated within the wooden hull of the ship. It began as a simple “oooooooo” then gradually slid into an eerie “eeeeeeeeee.” The sound seemed to come from all directions at once.

To those who did not know better, it sounded like the ship itself was singing. Those who had heard the sound before recognized it as the voice of a humpback whale. Acting like an amplifier, the beams of the wooden ship picked up the songs of the whale and converted their underwater vibrations into sound.

At first hearing, the song sounded like a free-form monologue of moans, cries, snores, ratchets, yups, chirps, and oooos. However, after more careful study, the low-pitched rumblings were discernible as simple patterns that the whale repeated at regular intervals like the stanzas of a song. In fact, the patterns were clearly as regular as the patterns in wallpaper.

Further investigation into the songs of humpback whales reveals that only the males sing and that all the males in any particular ocean sing the same song. Though the song changes slightly with each passing year, every male learns the new variations and repeats them flawlessly until they change again the following year.

Interestingly, other songs in nature remain fixed once developed. Whip-poor-wills always sound like whip-poor-wills. Each species of songbird sings but one set of songs throughout its lifetime. Only the humpback whale changes its song from year to year. What prompts the whales to change their tune is unknown. It has been observed that humpbacks in the Northern Hemisphere switch to their new song more gradually than whales in the Southern Hemisphere.

Curious to discover the origin of the sounds welling up inside the ship, two divers slipped quietly over the side hoping to catch a glimpse of the soloist that was serenading them from the deep. Once under water, they felt the powerful vibrations as distinctly as they had been heard on board the ship.

As the divers’ eyes adjusted to the darkness, they made out a large shape hanging motionlessly not more than 100 feet away. Its huge flippers drifted limply at its side. Both its head and tail drooped as if in intense concentration. The whale made no bubbles. Its mouth never opened. The song seemed to come from deep inside.

Suddenly the song stopped in mid-verse. A great silence enveloped both the divers and the whale as they faced one another. Bubbles rose from the divers’ air regulators, but all other movements seemed suspended in time. Fear gripped the divers. Had they interrupted something? Had they disturbed this denizen of the deep? Had they provoked the sleeping giant to attack? The huge, curved jaw of the whale’s mouth resembled a smile, but its bulk and power conveyed an ominous warning. Slowly and without effort the great whale glided forward, heading straight for the divers.

For a brief second the divers thought of hiding, but where could they hide? The humpback seemed to grow larger as it drew nearer. An eye the size of a football stared at the divers for a moment, then turned and looked away. With the grace of a soaring eagle, the whale glided on past the divers without even a second glance.

The whale had no hostile intentions. Its only purpose was to finish its song. As it disappeared into the darkness, the singing started again. Picking up where it had left off, the whale hastened to repeat each note as accurately as if it were following a conductor’s baton.

From Character Sketches, Volume IV, page 232

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The very nature and character of God is seen all throughout His created universe. Job remarked, “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee” (Job 12:7-8).

Each section of Character Sketches, Volume IV begins with a captivating “read-aloud” nature story that introduces the character quality being taught, including the one featured in this article. The printed volume continues with interesting facts on the featured species’ characteristics and physical features. This is followed by a story from Scripture that illustrates the character quality, along with background information on the individual or situation in the story, which is then summed up in a “character sketch.” Generously illustrated with stunning lifelike watercolor and pencil drawings, the oversized book (9 1/2″ by 12 3/4″) is available to order and will be treasured and enjoyed for generations.

The Character Sketches series is designed to be a tool that fathers can use to teach their children basic concepts of Scripture that are illustrated in the world of nature. Among our best-loved publications, hundreds of thousands have enjoyed the gripping stories and beautiful illustrations that the volumes contain.

Volume IV is now available to order!

Explore more about this topic in Character Sketches, Volume IV


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