Mysterious Metallic Sound In The Mariana Trench Found To Be From Whale

Posted: Dec 17 2016, 3:03am CST | by , Updated: Dec 17 2016, 3:11am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Mysterious Metallic Sound in the Mariana Trench Found to be From Whale
Dwarf minke whale. Credit: Sharon Nieukirk / Oregon State University
  • Enigmatic Metallic Sound in Mariana Trench found to be that of a Baleen Whale

An enigmatic metallic sound heard in the Mariana Trench was found to be that of a whale.

An eerie sound was heard around the Mariana Trench. This was recorded and found to belong to a whale. Termed the Western Pacific Biotwang, it may be from a minke whale, according to the Oregon State University researchers who recorded and analyzed it.

This is actually a subspecies of baleen whale. The researchers noted down the sound via particular acoustic robots. Irrespective of the species it belongs to, this whale has a certain locus of control.

This ranges from 38 hertz to 8000 hertz on the frequency span. Humans can apparently only hear between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz.

The noise is very singular in its purpose and it also has a lot of gibberish that goes along with it. The low-frequency moans are redolent of a baleen whale.

Yet it has a certain twang to it. It is a rare occurrence to come upon a new baleen whale call. The call was noted down thanks to seafaring robots.

These are called passive acoustic ocean gliders. They normally plunge to 3280 feet. They are sent on peregrinations one by one in order to listen surreptitiously to the whales.

Two years ago, this whole program of listening in on the whale noises began in earnest. The regions which were explored in search of whale calls were the Pacific Ocean east of Guam.

This was of course the Mariana Trench. It happens to be the deepest part of the ocean. The calls lasted 3.5 seconds each. The source is still being confirmed although the experts are sure it belongs to a minke whale.

The call has a complex sound, frequency, pitch and timbre. These calls most resemble the outcry of baby minke whales. Not a lot is known about the habits of minke whales.

Minke whales happen to be the tiniest of baleen whales. These whales do not spend much of their time at the surface, do not blow with a forceful sound and live in areas where they can seldom be spotted.

Yet their calls make them ideal creatures which can be recorded as regards their sounds. The whales use certain calls for preying and others for mating.

The particular call which we are talking about appears to be complex and must be for a specific purpose. It is still a mystery what the call is for. Scientists will get to the bottom of it soon though.

The researchers described this whale call in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

“Now that we’ve published these data, we hope researchers can identify this call in past and future data, and ultimately we should be able to pin down the source of the sound,” said Nieukirk , part of the team at the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, a partnership between OSU and the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

“More data are needed, including genetic, acoustic and visual identification of the source, to confirm the species and gain insight into how this sound is being used. Our hope is to mount an expedition to go out and do acoustic localization, find the animals, get biopsy samples and find out exactly what’s making the sound. It really is an amazing, weird sound, and good science will explain it.”

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