Caption: A humpback whale surfacing, Credit: Craig Shank
Image by: Craig Shank 
A humpback whale surfacing 

52 Hz

From: Everything Sounds
Series: Everything Sounds
Length: 07:00

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52 Hz is the name given to a mysterious whale that vocalizes at a different frequency than other whales. Some refer to him as "The World's Loneliest Whale," but other scientists aren't convinced that its unique call has left the whale isolated at all. (A 15-min. version is available here: http://www.prx.org/pieces/100190) Read the full description.
Playing
52 Hz
From
Everything Sounds

Pinball2_small A mysterious 52 Hz signal was heard in the North Pacific in the late 1980's. It had the characteristics of a whale call, but it was a higher frequency than what is typical for baleen whales. After years of detecting the signal on hydrophone recordings, scientists have still never seen the whale and are unsure whether it's a hybrid species or a blue or fin whale that has a problem with its sound production. The whale has often been referred to as "The World's Lonliest Whale," because people think that other whales couldn't understand it's unique call. Learn more about the 52 Hz whale, underwater communication, whale tracking, and why this whale may not be as lonely as previously assumed.

(A 15-min. version is available here.) 

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Piece Description

A mysterious 52 Hz signal was heard in the North Pacific in the late 1980's. It had the characteristics of a whale call, but it was a higher frequency than what is typical for baleen whales. After years of detecting the signal on hydrophone recordings, scientists have still never seen the whale and are unsure whether it's a hybrid species or a blue or fin whale that has a problem with its sound production. The whale has often been referred to as "The World's Lonliest Whale," because people think that other whales couldn't understand it's unique call. Learn more about the 52 Hz whale, underwater communication, whale tracking, and why this whale may not be as lonely as previously assumed.

(A 15-min. version is available here.) 

Transcript

George Drake Jr.: It’s a sound that has sparked curiosity and speculation around the world...

Darlene Ketten: In the 1980's, I think it was, a recording was made of a whale.. that was unusual.

Craig Shank: It’s a sound distinctive from other whale vocalizations heard before or since...

Bruce Mate: ...some physical abnormality in its sound production, maybe akin to a human with a lisp.

George Drake Jr.: It’s a sound that’s believed to be a single whale that vocalizes at a unique frequency -- 52Hz. 52Hz is close to the bottom range of what most humans can hear. The audio was sped up ten times to make it easier to decipher.

Craig Shank: In the years since the signal was first heard and tracked, 52 Hz has been nicknamed “The World’s Loneliest Whale” because some people assume that other whales can’t hear or understand it. Although there’s been no visual confirmation of 52Hz, scientis...
Read the full transcript

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

OUTRO:

This production is part of the STEM Story Project, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Presented by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
52 Hz Mustafa Shaheen 52 Hz. Self-Released 2013 03:10
Tracking Mustafa Shaheen 52 Hz. Self-Released 2013 :43

Additional Credits

Music composed by Mustafa Shaheen
Newport, OR recording by Rachael McDonald

Related Website

http://everythingsounds.org