NAT GEO Songs of the Humpback Whale Vinyl Record

The National Geographic magazine was founded in 1888 as a scholarly journal, nine months after the establishment of the society, but is now a popular magazine. In 1905, it began including pictures, a style for which it has become well-known. The magazine is quite logically outspoken on environmental issues like Save the Whales. Since 2019, controlling interest has been held by The Walt Disney Company.

And speaking of whales, the very subject of this post, we have the humpback whale which is a species of baleen whale. Adults range in length from 14–17 m (46–56 ft.) and weigh up to 40 metric tons (44 short tons). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and tubercles on its head. It is known for breaching, or breaking the surface of the ocean while jumping, making it popular with whale watchers. Males produce a complex song typically lasting 4 to 33 minutes.

It’s really these songs that this flimsy vinyl ‘record’ was produced to share. It was included in the magazine as a free companion to an article written on the gentle giants of the sea. Specifically, the January 1979 issue, Page 24. The missing piece on the side of this example was likely created when it was removed from the binding of the magazine.

This ‘record’ was produced in 1977 by Capitol Records but copyrighted by the National Geographic Society in 1978. It contains a commentary by Roger Payne, Ph.D., a Research Zoologist with the New York Zoological Society. Please enjoy:

Although this ‘record’ is the size of a 45 rpm disc, it actually plays at 33 1/3 rpm. And it has one other notable feature:

Some records claim to be unbreakable, but I think this one actually is! Although, even a small child might be able to rip it. It was manufactured by the Eva-tone company as a throwaway novelty.

It was interesting that whale song has been shot out into space on a craft meant to last a billion years. If aliens do find it and come to Earth for a conference, I hope they don’t expect me to sing!

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