Sad Story of The Lonely Whale – 52 Hertz

By Anupum Pant

Background Story

In the year 1989, a navy technician Joseph George, discovered something mysterious. While looking for enemy submarines in the sea by detecting sound signals, Joseph noticed that there was a mysterious lone sound which stood out in the acoustic signal. From his years of experience as an acoustic analyst, Joseph knew that this sound wasn’t coming from a submarine. As predicted, no enemy ships or submarines were found on further examination.

The sound was a deep pulsing wave and was incredibly loud. It seemed as if it were coming from a machine. But he was certain that this wasn’t a mechanical machine which was making the sound. There was something biological about it. So Joseph decided to call an experienced marine biologist to find out what was making that sound. The researcher confirmed that it was a whale! But not a normal whale…

Did you know?
Whale vomit can make you rich.
and Whale fat is a very healthy thing to eat.

The Twist

If this was really a whale, it still confused the marine biologist because first, the sound was coming from an awkward path. Since whales travel together in a regular migratory path, this wasn’t coming from any of those paths. Also, it was a lone sound.

Secondly, the frequency of sound that was detected was measured to be 52 hertz, and no species of whales were known to make that kind of sound. Usually whales create a sound with a frequency that lies between 15 to 20 hertz. This was definitely not any known species of whale. Or even if it was among any of the known species, it was calling out the wrong note. A note, probably no other whale could hear.

So, for obvious reasons, even when the loud bass was heard for several times, no response by other whales was detected. This was awkward because whales usually respond to the members of their groups. They talk. It was concluded that this whale was travelling alone. No one knew why.

Studies and Theories

In the 13 years of study that ensued, the whale (or whatever it was) was never seen, nor was a response to its song was noted. Scientists started calling it the 52 hertz whale. They could never figure out why the whale sang in a different voice or even an answer to why it was alone, travelling on a completely different path.

Scientists have tried to explain this, but there has never been a solid answer that explains the lonely nature of the creature. To explain the loneliness, some say that the 52 hertz’s voice can’t be heard by other whales, others say that it can’t hear the other whales. Some say that the other whales are scared to respond or go near an unusual voice. Other theories say that the whale must be a hybrid of two different species of whales and that is the reason it sounds so different. What is the real deal, no one knows.

Stories Documentaries and Poems

The 52-hertz whale started having a huge fan following in the late 2000s. A 90 minute documentary was made. However, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Poems were written. Blogs and statuses were written and people sounded touched & concerned. They wanted to extend help to the lonely whale in some way.

lonely whale response

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Consuming Fat Can Have Exceptional Health Benefits – Whale Fat

By Anupum Pant

Blubber Crash-course

Blubber is thick layer of fat that is present under the skin of many sea dwelling animals which helps them withstand the cold sea temperatures. It is found in animals like dolphins, whales, seals etc. Since fur fails to insulate once the animal is inside water, blubber is what helps them stay warm in there. Depending on the size of the animal, the thickness of this fat layer can vary from 2 to 12 inches. Look at a minute-long Sick Science experiment (Video) that demonstrates this particular function of a layer of fat (shortening in this case).

The other important use of blubber for these animals is that it can act as a buffer stock of energy. During the times when sea animals aren’t able to find food, they burn up the fat for energy. It helps them last for a long time without food. Also, blubber helps them float better in water.

Eskimos eat this

Inuit, a group of people living in parts of Arctic, Canada, Greenland and USA, commonly known as Eskimos, love to include blubber in their food because it is a great source of  omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. They consume raw, dried and boiled blubber with meat regularly, either with soya sauce or sea oil.

The positive health benefits of blubber, as Wikipedia puts it, can be observed in Greenland, where people consume it regularly. As a result, they are less likely to die due to Heart diseases. It says, not a single person died in that region in the 1970s due to cardiovascular diseases. Someone needs to study the same for the present decade.

It cites the following a source that no longer exists. However, another source clarifies it (source):

In the 1970s there was not a single death due to cardiovascular disease in the hunting district of Uummannaq with about 3,000 inhabitants. The average 70-year-old Inuit with a traditional diet of whale and seal has arteries as elastic as those of a 20-year-old Danish resident.

That is a pretty incredible health benefit, given hardening of arteries due to build-up of fat has become such big killer in developed countries.

Is Blubber really that good today?

Today, whales and other sea animals that are a primary source of blubber for Eskimos, come across huge amounts of toxic chemicals in the sea – mostly through food. They consume these industrial wastes, and with time carcinogens build up in their bodies. These carcinogens ultimately enter the traditional food items of Eskimos through blubber.

So, heart disease might not be a widespread phenomena in Greenland, but in a few years, cancer could be. But, that is just the poor human logical brain talking.

According to current studies, blubber based diet has is indeed been credited to the Inuit health and longevity.

Also read –

  1. Sharks Are Not So Bad After All
  2. Ambergris – Whale Vomit Can Make You Rich