Do Beluga Whales Like Music? Bagpipes? Mariachi Music? It’s Debatable

Do Beluga Whales Like Music?

Do Beluga Whales like music?  That is the question.  In a video that went viral last year, a Mariachi Band that was at Mystic Aquarium, where they were performing during a wedding, played for the Beluga whales.  The whales really seem to enjoy music.  One beluga whale stayed close to the window glass, seemingly entranced, bobbing her head.  The whale seemed to be ‘dancing.’

But truly, do Beluga Whales like music?  Well, maybe not.  Researchers have conducted several experiments in which recorded songs of whales (described as a series of squeals, gurgles, and moans) and then played them back using underwater speakers. The whales sometimes approached when they heard recordings of songs that are similar to their own, but whale songs that were manipulated to sound quite different tended to send the whales away or elicit no response at all.

Do Beluga Whales Like Music? Bagpipes? Mariachi music? It's Debatable Click To Tweet

So why does the whale appear to be ‘dancing’ in the first video with the Mariachi Band?  Well, the trainer explained that the beluga was trained to nod along with arm movements, like the motion the mariachis made while performing, and other whale experts agree that it’s unlikely that the beluga was dancing.  They also say that sound also doesn’t travel well from air to water, and so the beluga probably couldn’t hear the music very clearly.  Read more about whether whales like music here.

Burst your bubble

Sorry to burst your bubble.  😥

Whales do, however, make their sounds which can sound like whimsical music.  Scientists believe that whales vocalize to locate one another, to find mates, and to socialize. Each whale species has its own set of sounds, and populations, or groups, of whales within the same species, often make calls that differ from other populations. Whales also use their ability to emit sounds to help them navigate through a process called echolocation, in which the sounds bounce back to them from objects and the ocean floor.

Do Beluga Whales Like Music

SOURCES:  National Geographic and

Do Beluga Whales Like Music? Bagpipes? Mariachi music? It's Debatable Click To Tweet


Jeanne Melanson
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12 thoughts on “Do Beluga Whales Like Music? Bagpipes? Mariachi Music? It’s Debatable”

  1. Good article Jeannie, whales fascinate me. I hope the whales enjoy the music, it can’t be easy to experience the lorn desolation of captivity. Thank you Jeannie

  2. That was a fun article! When it comes to animals enjoying music, it’s not very simple. We have to keep in mind that our brains have been trained to hear music, which is why Western music sounds good to those of us in the West, and Eastern Music sounds good to those raised in the East. That being said, new born “human” babies will respond to music right after they are born, even before their brains are trained to listen to it so there is definitely something there already!

    Even if animals do like music, it’s surely not the exact same thing as we consider “music” The tones in any human made music system such as the diatonic scale are just one of many interpretations of what sounds good, yet there are a lot more musical tones and vibrations than we typically use.

  3. I wondered if it would be possible to hear through the glass. I prefer to think they were dancing to ht music, or at least enjoying the attention.

  4. Wow, this is very cool. I never knew beluga whales liked music. I could tell he was enjoying the music when he was bobbing his head! Awe!

  5. Hi Jeanne,

    I remember when I purchased a CD of whale sounds. I used to meditate with that on all the time. They do sound so musical. I love it! Now I have the urge to find that darn CD! It must be somewhere lol.

    Thanks for explaining all this. I really appreciate it.


  6. Super cool post Jeanne. I had no idea whales liked or disliked music or even that someone was researching it.

    Have a fabulous day!

  7. I could wish that the maker of the You Tube video of the whales had shown 30 seconds of the whales before or after the bagpipe player so we could have prepared their movements before, during and after.. It seemed to me they were more interested in the movements of the bagpiper – perhaps because he was behaving differently than their normal visitor? I used to own birds, and I believe I have seen captive birds enjoy music. However, I think I understand bird body language better than whale.


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