VA: Marine Mammals and Fish of Lofoten and Vesterålen

Filing this one as a compilation is obviously a little bit unusual though there are various “artists” involved, even if they are whales of various kinds (killer, pilot, sperm), dolphins, and seals. Gruenrekorder spares no expense in presenting its latest field recording release, with the CD of sounds (recorded by biologist and Ocean Sounds founder Heike Vester at Tysfjord, Vestfjord, and Vesteralen) complemented by a full-colour digipack and mini-booklet of explanatory text and photographs. In one track, the high-pitched cry of a long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) rings out ten metres away from the boat while another whale answers in the distance. Elsewhere, the echolocation clicks (the echoes of an animal's high-pitched sounds are used to determine the direction and distance of objects, such as the location of sea food like squid or fish) of Atlantic white-striped dolphins (Lagenorynchus acutus) and male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are heard, as well as the plaintive sound of a Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) pup calling for its mother. If track ten sounds more tumultuous, it should as it documents a feeding frenzy involving sixty killer whales and a herring net that broke free from a seiner (a large vessel that catches fish using a seine, a large, vertically-hanging fishing net). Not only is the “compilation” compelling on listening grounds, it's educational too. We learn, for example, that killer whales (Orcinus orca) feed on herring using a method called “carousel feeding” whereby the whales herd the herring together, chase it to the surface, and then hit it with their tails to kill or stun it. Here and in the other ten pieces, such detail renders the creatures' whistles, clicks, calls, and squeals more meaningful in enabling the lay listener to visualize the scene.

July 2009