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52 Hertz
September 17, 2012 2:41 AM   Subscribe


 
Previously.

Poor whale.
posted by Houstonian at 3:12 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fascinating.

Also, WHY does that picture not have a caption? Is that 52 Hz? Is that a random whale picture they found on google image search?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:16 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are plenty of people who are married with children who are lonely. Others have little human contact and prefer it that way.

Maybe the whale's got Asperger's.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 3:36 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost certainly a stock whale - not 52 Hz specifically. It is clear from the article that we only know about 52Hz from underwater microphones: a sighting or photograph would almost certainly answer the question of what species he is, for example.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:36 AM on September 17, 2012


I wonder if he can interpret other whales' songs, and I wonder if other whales can hear his songs, but just can't answer at that frequency?
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 3:42 AM on September 17, 2012


It is clear from the article that we only know about 52Hz from underwater microphones

What if it's not a whale?
posted by pracowity at 3:43 AM on September 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


Previously
posted by HuronBob at 3:45 AM on September 17, 2012


The photo is attributed at the bottom of the article. It's a creative commons photo of a blue whale, and the photo is used on the wikipedia article on blue whales.
posted by Houstonian at 3:47 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fair enough.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:58 AM on September 17, 2012


What if it's a whale researcher playing whale songs at a higher frequency to see how other whales respond, and they just haven't published on it yet or widely notified the scientific community?
posted by lollusc at 4:01 AM on September 17, 2012


Is it only male whales that sing, or is the article falling into a lazy stereotype of the male forever-alone in referring to 52Hz as “he”? Perhaps if it was a she, it'd be accompanied by an unreasonable number of the aquatic equivalent of cats or something?
posted by acb at 4:04 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I imagine Prince singing, "Could he be the most loneliest whale in the world? It's plain to see he's the reason that God made a whale..."
posted by knile at 4:08 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I imagine Prince singing, "Could he be the most loneliest whale in the world?

At about 52 KHz. In Cetacean.
posted by pracowity at 4:52 AM on September 17, 2012


What if it's not a whale?

Seriously. According to the article, it sounds, looks and acts different than a whale and no one has ever seen it. Obvious conclusion: mutant whale.

Also, even if it is a whale the fact that he sings at 52 hertz doesn't necessarily make him lonely. What if the other whales can still hear him and he's enticingly different? Or what if he can ALSO sing at 15-25 hertz.
posted by DU at 5:00 AM on September 17, 2012


Obvious conclusion: mutant whale.

...or experimental sino submarine.
posted by panaceanot at 5:15 AM on September 17, 2012


Ceto-sino submarine.
posted by pracowity at 5:17 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whiskey tenor ceto-sino submarine.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:20 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


My favourite whale song: Mr Scruff – Sea Shanty.
posted by panaceanot at 5:20 AM on September 17, 2012


I've always thought this would be an awesome children's book, then I realize it would actually be really depressing.
posted by odinsdream at 5:24 AM on September 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Cool story, zoo. Thanks. Found this: 52 Hertz - Audio Tape #001. Outrageously deep.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:25 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's clearly James Cameron in his private sub.
posted by ZsigE at 5:28 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obviously a castrato.
posted by spitbull at 5:28 AM on September 17, 2012


Obvious conclusion: mutant conlang-whale.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:35 AM on September 17, 2012


Up next: SyFy presents Leif Garret & Shaun Cassidy in 52 HURTS, the terrifying movie based on "real-life events" in which a mutant whalesquid with elbows clambers up to the surface from the deep to menance an isolated Alaskan fishing village.
posted by PapaLobo at 5:53 AM on September 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


a mutant whalesquid with elbows

Oh, gosh, squids, is there no end you your attempts to out-weird fiction? Elbows? Really?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:15 AM on September 17, 2012


Not the Loneliest Whale; the Self-sufficient Whale. This togetherness fetish is totes ridic. I believe his/her song translates as follows;

So long bitches
I can scratch just where it itches
Slurp krill over the sink
Wear flipper covers of fabulous mink
Do whatever the fuck I like
Cuz 52 Hertz is outtasight!
Yeahhhhhh boyyyyzzz!

posted by moneyjane at 6:23 AM on September 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


Cetacean, please.
posted by hal9k at 6:26 AM on September 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


Since I saw the title of this post, I've been trying to think of where I know this from. Was thinking it was maybe a song by The Magnetic Fields, but now I finally recall it happened to be a song by an equally deep-voiced friend of mine. The song was called, obviously, "52 Hertz." It was about this lonely whale. This must have been at least 7 years ago.
posted by etc. at 6:29 AM on September 17, 2012


52 is the loneliest number...
posted by blue_beetle at 6:33 AM on September 17, 2012


Despite 20 years of bellowing unanswered hymns into the cold echoes of the North Pacific, he sings on.

Got 99 problems but the pitch ain't one
posted by hal9k at 6:33 AM on September 17, 2012 [34 favorites]


Despite 20 years of bellowing unanswered hymns into the cold echoes of the North Pacific, he sings on

Maybe it's just a very long invocation to summon the Vengeful Whale-Gods to purge the Planet of the Cancer That Is Humanity?

Not all hymns are nice hymns.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:38 AM on September 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


That article makes me want to punch whales.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:39 AM on September 17, 2012


I've always thought this would be an awesome children's book, then I realize it would actually be really depressing.

It actually reminds me of the Ray Bradbury story about the sea monster that fell in love with a fog horn and persisted in calling to it.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:39 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Elbows? Really?
Not really (that's just how they hang), but cephalopods are considered to be the most intelligent invetebrates so perhaps they understand perpendicularity. OMG THEY HAVE MATH! GEOMETRY! RUN! RUN!!! RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Uh, to where, I don't know. We're doomed.
posted by PapaLobo at 6:40 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's just a very long invocation to summon the Vengeful Whale-Gods to purge the Planet of the Cancer That Is Humanity?

Oh Hai!
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:48 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh Hai!

/Looks at illustration.

Never get off the boat. Never get off the boat.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:55 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whale's resilience could also be viewed as inspiration to anyone with a lonely heart. Despite 20 years of bellowing unanswered hymns into the cold echoes of the North Pacific, he sings on.

A famous Zen koan asks: What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Perhaps it resonates in 52 Hertz
.

Oh Bryan Nelson at blogs.discovery.com. Who knew that your writings would contain such deep insights into the human - nay - the universal experience. Is that a Pulitzer I smell?
posted by item at 6:55 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe the loneliest whale in the world is the probe from Star Trek IV.
posted by thejoshu at 6:56 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs to go back and read the comments in that article for the conversation between "Da whale" and "Momma whale."
posted by victory_laser at 6:59 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Never get off the boat.
Never get on the boat, is what I'm thinking.
And I've experienced something similar to this.
posted by PapaLobo at 7:01 AM on September 17, 2012


What if it's not a whale?
Seriously. According to the article, it sounds, looks and acts different than a whale and no one has ever seen it. Obvious conclusion: mutant whale.[cetacean needed]
posted by Jehan at 7:13 AM on September 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Everybody Hertz?
posted by numberstation at 7:29 AM on September 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


A wizard has turned you into a whale.
Is this awesome (Y/N)?

N

posted by comealongpole at 7:33 AM on September 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


That article makes me want to punch whales.

This article (and thread) make me want to slap people upside the head when they make wild assumptions about what's going on with this animal, whose species we know pathetically little about to begin with, and even more so when they then make even wilder anthropomorphized assumptions about the animal's mental and emotional state based mostly on psychological projection.
posted by aught at 8:10 AM on September 17, 2012


My guess is that the whale may be deaf. That would mess up his vocalizations and make him unable to hear any answering whales. Though you'd think in 20 years he'd bump into another whale at some point.
posted by orange swan at 8:35 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


a mutant whalesquid with elbows

Isn't that just the monster from Cloverfield?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2012


I'm guessing it's Dory. She's not very fluent in whale.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:54 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Though you'd think in 20 years he'd bump into another whale at some point.

If true, that might have more to do with the fact humans killed 98% of the world's blue whales than with the peculiarity of his song.
posted by aught at 8:55 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


a mutant whalesquid with elbows

Isn't that just the monster from Cloverfield?


PedantFilter: I think you're thinking of the fake spoiler Cloverfield monster. I remember thinking during the actual movie that the monster looked more like a giant shaved cat with extra leg joints and a nasty goiter condition.
posted by aught at 9:02 AM on September 17, 2012




Pitchfork is already calling this whale a genius. In 20 years, every whale will be trying to get this sound.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:09 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


This article (and thread) make me want to slap people upside the head when they make wild assumptions about what's going on with this animal

You are 52 Hertz, aren't you?
posted by pracowity at 9:42 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh great. So it's taken 2.5 years but I promised in the previous thread (back when updates were still allowed in MetaTalk!) to update everyone if I ever heard. I did hear from NMFS but as I recall it wasn't terribly useful.

Now of course there's this article, updating to January the date when 52 Hertz was last heard from.

BUT, I was visiting the San Juan Islands um in 2010 and they coincidentally have a very nice whale museum and the whale museum has a whale scientist (who specializes in whale sounds and by this point I was super excited) so I have his card and just need to email this guy. If I hear from him, I promise to actually update this thread. Maybe he'll know of someone who's tracked 52 Hertz this summer...?
posted by librarylis at 10:46 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it only male whales that sing, or is the article falling into a lazy stereotype of the male forever-alone in referring to 52Hz as “he”?

No, male Carl Sagans also sing.
posted by herrdoktor at 11:54 AM on September 17, 2012


I'm looking forward to odinsdream's children's book.
posted by homunculus at 2:45 PM on September 17, 2012


I've always thought this would be an awesome children's book, then I realize it would actually be really depressing.

Don't be so negative, I'm sure the critics will appreciate it.
posted by homunculus at 2:49 PM on September 17, 2012


I am terrified of whales and this did nothing to assuage my terror.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:04 PM on September 17, 2012


I'm terrified for whales. Et cetera.
posted by BrashTech at 3:40 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


@lollusc: The song has been picked up for 20 years. It seems unlikely that a scientist would pour money into an experiment for 20 years without getting a single publication, or reading about 52 Hz and telling someone.
posted by Canageek at 6:45 PM on September 17, 2012


OK, somebody help me out here. While reading the article I immediately flashed on a great book I read about the last (humpback?) whale on earth that was told from the POV of the whale. Eventually he/she? befriends a whale of another species, but that doesn't work out. The whales are highly intelligent, and this lone whale knows he's the last of his kind.

Arrrgh!! What is this book?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:13 PM on September 17, 2012


Ah, The Last Whales, by Lloyd Abbey. The Fin whale is the last of her kind.

Good read.

Thanks, mystery email person.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:21 PM on September 17, 2012


is that sailor from the hunt for red october who could tell that the "biologic" was a russian submarine still around?
posted by camdan at 10:23 PM on September 17, 2012


He quit the navy and became a lawyer, of all things. Last I heard he was working in the DA's office in New York, but that was a few years ago. Not sure what he's up to now.

(Oh, and the biologic was an actual biologic. It was the magma displacement that was actually the Red October.)
posted by stebulus at 11:02 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What if it's not a whale?

Yes, is only whale. No need to go looking for lonely whale, you stupid capitalist imperialist pigs, um, I mean, you wonderful people you.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:34 AM on September 18, 2012


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