In 1989, an array of US Navy hydrophones (underwater microphones) in the North Pacific Ocean discovered a peculiar sound. It sounded very similar to a typical whale song, but there was a crucial difference. Most whales sing at about 10-40Hz, which is a very low frequency sound. However, this specific whale song played at 52Hz – significantly higher than other whale songs.
Bill Watkins was a scientist who became fascinated by this sound. He detected the same sound year after year for over a decade and recognised that it was coming from the same whale. It followed seasonal migration patterns and the song had definite, common features of whale songs. But this song was higher pitch than every other whale he compared it to.
This whale has since been called the “52-hertz whale”, also known as “the world’s loneliest whale”. There have been no other recordings of whale songs like it. There are many theories about what kind of whale it might be, with the leading theory being that it is a hybrid of a blue whale and a fin whale. Because hybrid animals (crossbreeds) have different body morphologies to the parent species, theoretically it could produce a unique sound.
Whales sing to communicate with each other. In the vast ocean, sight becomes easily obscured, but the low-pitched vocalisations of whales can carry on for hundreds of miles. This raises the question of whether the 52-hertz whale’s calls are heard by other whales, given that it is talking in a different frequency range. If they can’t, there is a chance that this whale is calling out into the void, only to be ignored by every other whale. It might have been swimming alone for decades, in search of a partner who can communicate with it.
In some ways, we are all somewhat like the 52-hertz whale. Because we are all unique individuals, even when we talk in the same language, we often misinterpret each other or fail to make a connection because we cannot understand their way of thinking. This is why when you meet someone who thinks on a similar frequency to you, it is a connection worth holding on to. There is no greater thrill than meeting another soul who you can say one thing to and they will understand ten things.
These are the kinds of relationships you should treasure, because for all you know, you may end up like the 52-hertz whale – drifting along the deep blue ocean, desperately calling out in hopes of hearing any kind of reply.
(Image source: https://kaanbagci.deviantart.com/art/52-hertz-whale-445744029)