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Thursday, 3 March 2011

The story of 52 Hertz - the lonely whale

So you think you've got it tough?

Perhaps you want to reach for the Kleenex or at least sit down quietly for a few moments as you read this.

A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) - a species of baleen whale
(from Wikipedia, author - Whit Welles Wwelles14)

It's the story of the lonely whale - a baleen whale apparently - who has spent the past couple of decades swimming around in the ocean all by herself - or himself according to some reports on the Net - nobody really seems sure.

What is certain is that the whale is alone, singing at a different frequency which means, writes Jesus Diaz on the technology weblog Gizmodo that, "No other whales can hear her. Every one of her desperate calls to communicate remains unanswered. Each cry ignored."

Yes there might be a fair bit anthropomorphising going on in the way Diaz tells the tale but that certainly doesn't lessen its impact.

In 2004 the New York Times took a look at the plight of the whale, revealing that the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution had been tracking it since 1992 with "a classified array of hydrophones used by the (US) Navy to monitor enemy submarines.

Scientists had no single explanation as to why the whale made a different sound but rather, "A host of them," wrote Andrew Revkin in the paper.

"Among them that the animal is malformed or, most likely, is a hybrid of a blue whale and another species."

Eight years down the line and still nobody seems to know why the whale is out of synch with those around it.

All that's certain is that it's out there all by itself, "Seeing other creatures around her but unable to communicate with any of them," writes Diaz.

The whale doesn't just sing differently, it also follows a completely different migration route according to the sustainability website TreeHugger.

"It 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," writes Jaymi Heimbuch.

It can't be seen and it can't be heard - apart, that is by researchers. And that's the way it looks set to spend the rest of its life.

You can hear the 52 Hertz whale’s song for yourself, here.


Anonymous said...

Very moving story! well written too. Thank you.

Bethan said...

So sad :-(

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