World's Loneliest Whale Sings At The Wrong Frequency


Photo by dave and rose via Flickr Creative Commons

We've heard about whales suffering from loneliness due to overhunting. There's simply fewer of their species for them to communicate with. But what about a whale who sings at the wrong frequency? One whale, recorded since 1989 and tracked since 1992, sings at a frequency of 51.75 Hz, whereas others of her kind sing at 15 to 25 Hz. She's lonely because no one else can hear her. Good reports, "According to a 2004 New York Times article on the subject, this particular baleen whale has apparently been tracked by NOAA since 1992, using a 'classified array of hydrophones employed by the Navy to monitor enemy submarines.' It sings at 52 Hertz, which is roughly the same frequency as the lowest note on a tuba, and much higher than its fellow whales, whose calls fall in the 15 to 25 Hertz range."

Often, whales have trouble hearing one another because of human marine noise pollution -- they have to call louder or at a slightly different frequency in order to communicate over the din. But in this case, it's a wrong frequency altogether.

Not only does it sing too high, it also fails to travel along any known migration route of any baleen whale species -- so other whales can't hear it, and they don't run into it along migration paths. The best guess of researchers is that this lonely whale is either a "deformed" hybrid between two species of whale, or the last surviving member of an unknown species. Finding out for sure proves to be a nearly impossible task, as cryptozoologist Oll Lewis points out:

"The Woods Hole scientists were able to track the migratory pattern of the whale over several years, but this was only after the sounds had been declassified and released to them. Finding a moving target that you knew was in a certain place, say for example, last Tuesday, is a nigh on impossible task, and would require huge amounts of manpower. It is likely we will never know exactly what the 52 Hertz whale looks like, but the sentimentalist in me hopes that someday his calls are answered, however unlikely that may be."

No matter the species or whether or not we'll know what's the deal with this odd whale, it's definitely a sad story.

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Tags: Animals | Oceans | Whales

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