Have you ever heard of the 52-Hertz Whale? Here are pieces of Wikipedia’s article on this lonely mammal:

“The 52-Hertz whale is a unique whale that calls at a characteristic frequency of 52 Hz, a much higher frequency than the vocalizations of most whales. It appears to be the only individual with this call, and has been described as the world’s loneliest whale.

The sonic signature is that of a whale, albeit at a unique frequency. At 52 Hertz, it is just higher than the lowest note on a tuba. The call patterns resemble neither blue nor fin whales – they are shorter and more frequent, besides being at a much higher frequency. Blue whales usually vocalize at 15–20 Hz, fin whales at 20. The 52-Hertz signals are highly variable in their pattern of repetition, duration, and sequence, although they are easily identifiable due to their frequency and characteristic clustering.

The track of the 52-Hertz whale is unrelated to the presence or movement of other whale species. Its movements have been somewhat similar to that of blue whales, but its timing has been more like that of fin whales. It is detected in the Pacific Ocean every year beginning in August–December, and moves out of range of the hydrophones in January–February. It travels as far north as the Aleutian and Kodiak Islands, and as far south as the California coast, swimming between 30 and 70 km each day.

…Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have been unable to identify the species of the whale. They speculate that it could be malformed, or a hybrid of a blue whale and another species [and one scientist has even speculated that it is the last of a previously unknown species of baleen whale, a dying breed]…Whatever biological cause underlies its unusually high voice does not seem to be detrimental to its survival. The fact that the whale has survived and apparently matured indicates that it is probably healthy. Still, it is the only one of its kind detected anywhere, and there is only one such source per season. Because of this, the animal has been called the loneliest whale in the world.”

It’s both sad and inspiring, I think, to imagine him out there, by himself. Singing even when nobody can hear him.

p.s. the photo is not actually of this particular lonely whale, since the 52-Hertz Whale has never actually been seen. But you get the idea.


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