The Loneliest Whale and Ray Bradbury

In 1989, some very unusual whale calls were noticed in the North Pacific basin; the calls have been consistently recorded since 1992. At 52 hertz (about the sound of the low note from a tuba), the calls were significantly different from those of known baleen whales - like the blue whales (15-20 hz) and fin whales (20 hz). Yet they appear to be baleen whale sounds; baleen whales only make these noises for courtship and kinship - to maintain contact with others of their kind.


(From 52 Mz Whale Song)

But only one set of calls are heard at a time; no calls ever overlap. This strongly suggests that these are sounds being made by a single individual. The location of the calls over time is different from the known migration patterns of any known species of whale. The calls have deepened and changed over the 12 years it has been tracked, indicating a process of maturation. But this whale seems to be the only one of its kind.

In 1951, Ray Bradbury wrote a marvelous short story about a lonely sea monster, who called and called, waiting for another of its kind:

I saw it all, I knew it all-the million years of waiting alone, for someone to come back who never came back. The million years of isolation at the bottom of the sea, the insanity of time there, while the skies cleared of reptile-birds, the swamps fried on the continental lands, the sloths and sabre-tooths had there day and sank in tar pits, and men ran like white ants upon the hills.

If you haven't read the story, I really don't want to spoil it for you; go find a copy of The Foghorn. Read more about the The Loneliest Mystery of the Deep.

(I had just enough time to get this last story in. Thanks for reading Technovelgy in 2004 - have a great new year!
- Bill Christensen)

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