52-hertz whale is an individual whale of unidentified species,
which calls at the very unusual frequency of 52 Hz. This pitch is
a much higher frequency than that of the other whale species with
migration patterns most closely resembling this whale's – the
blue whale (10–39 Hz) or fin whale (20 Hz). It has
been detected regularly in many locations since the late 1980s and
appears to be the only individual emitting a whale call at this
frequency. It has been described as the "world's loneliest whale".
4 Short film
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
The 52-hertz whale
The signal was recorded in the northeast Pacific. It has been sped up
ten times, raising the pitch to 520 Hz.
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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, being much higher
in frequency, shorter, and more frequent. Blue whales usually
vocalize at 10–39 Hz, fin whales at 20 Hz. The
52-hertz calls of this whale are highly variable in their pattern of
repetition, duration, and sequence, although they are easily
identifiable due to their frequency and characteristic clustering.
The calls have deepened slightly to around 49 hertz since 1992,
suggesting the whale has grown or matured.
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. Its recorded distance
traveled per season has ranged from a low of 708 km to a high of
11,062 km in 2002–03.
Scientists at the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have been
unable to identify the species of the whale. They speculate that it
could be malformed, or possibly a blue whale/fin whale hybrid. The
research team has been contacted by deaf people who believe the whale
may be deaf.
Whatever biological cause underlies its unusually high frequency voice
does not seem to be detrimental to its survival. The fact that the
whale has survived and apparently matured indicates it is probably
healthy. Still, its unique call 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
52-hertz whale was discovered by a team from the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution. Its call was first detected in 1989, then
again in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, following the end of the Cold War,
the U.S. Navy partially declassified the recordings and technical
specifications of its
SOSUS anti-submarine hydrophone arrays, and made
SOSUS available for oceanographic research. As of 2014, the
whale had been detected every year since. Research by scientists
at Woods Hole has been supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Marine Fisheries
Service, in addition to the U.S. Navy.
A feature-length documentary entitled 52: The Search for the Loneliest
Whale is in production, shot by Joshua Zeman, the director of Cropsey,
and produced by Adrian Grenier. Funded through a
the film is due for release sometime in 2018.
The Loneliest, a short mockumentary film about two women searching for
the loneliest whale, was made in April 2014 by Lilian Mehrel, with the
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Andy Othling, performing under the nom de guerre, Lowercase Noises
released Migratory Patterns in 2011. The ambient album as a whole is
informed by the
52-hertz whale and its supposed solitude and search
for contact. The album's cover features a the silhouette of single
whale swimming through a an ocean of overlapping panes of blue.
Montreal-based saxophone player and composer Colin Stetson's 2013
album New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light included a song
entitled "Part of Me Apart From You". Though not explicitly written
about the 52-hertz whale, when first performing the song live, he has
remarked on at least several occasions that the story of the
"loneliest whale" resonated deeply with his composition. "This whale
is alone in a large body of water, swimming, singing its song, calling
for a likeness it will never find," he said by way of introducing the
song at a performance at Toronto's Great Hall on 19 May 2013. "When I
play this song, I can't help but think about this whale, who right at
this very minute is singing alone."
South Korean k-pop group BTS's 2015 album The Most Beautiful Moment in
Life, Part 2's fourth track, "Whalien 52", explicitly uses the
52-hertz whale as a metaphor for the alienation from others often felt
The English folk duo
Kathryn Roberts and
Sean Lakeman included the
song "52 Hertz" on their 2015 album Tomorrow Will Follow Today. The
song is about the whale and includes the line, "52 Hertz, 52 Hertz,
I'm singing a love song that no-one can hear" in the chorus.
The American singer, songwriter, model and actress
Chrysta Bell also
released a song "52 Hz" inspired by the whale, in which she sings "52
Hertz I'm all alone, 52
Hertz on my hydrophone". 
List of unexplained sounds
List of famous whales
^ a b c Copley, John (10 December 2004). "Lonely whale's song remains
a mystery". New Scientist. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
^ a b "Blue Whale". The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Archived from the
original on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-02-13.
^ "Maybe the World's Loneliest
Whale Isn't So Isolated, After All
Smart News Smithsonian". Smithsonianmag.com. 2015-04-15.
doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2004.08.006. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
^ a b c d e Revkin, Andrew C. (December 21, 2004). "Song of the Sea, a
Cappella and Unanswered". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
^ a b c Nelson, Bryan (2012-05-20). "52 Hertz: The Loneliest
the World". Discovery.com. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
^ a b c Watkins, William A.; George, Joseph E.; Daher, Mary Ann;
Mullin, Kristina; Martin, Darel L.; Haga, Scott H.; DiMarzio, Nancy A.
February 2000. "
Whale call data for the North Pacific: November 1995
through July 1999 occurrence of calling whales and source locations
SOSUS and other acoustic systems". Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution. Technical report. WHOI-00-02.
^ a b c d Lippsett, Lonny (5 April 2005). "A Lone Voice Crying in the
Watery Wilderness (with a graphic of tracking during twelve year
period)". Oceanus. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved 17
^ Willingham, Emily (2011-03-31). "52-
Hertz song of world's loneliest
whale". EarthSky. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
^ Anderson, Ben (2011-01-05). "'World's loneliest whale' pays visit to
Alaska". Alaska Dispatch. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
^ Mulvaney, Kieran (26 January 2017). "The loneliest whale in the
world?". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
^ "New York Times".
^ "The Loneliest".
^ "Colin Stetson". exclaim.ca. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
^ Benjamin, Jeff. "BTS Succeeds With Mixed Styles, Emotions on 'Most
Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 2'". Billboard. Retrieved 9 January
Kathryn Roberts and
Sean Lakeman - Tomorrow Will Follow Today
Folk Radio UK". Folk Radio UK - Folk Music Magazine. 2015-02-25.
^ "Sensual new
Chrysta Bell single '52 Hz'". BlackBook. Retrieved 1
Watkins, W. A., M. A. Daher, G. M. Reppucci, J. E. George, D. L.
Martin, N. A. DiMarzio, and D. P. Gannon. 2000. "Seasonality and
distribution of whale calls in the North Pacific". Oceanography
Watkins, W. A., M. A. Daher, J. E. George, and D. Rodriguez. 2004.
"Twelve years of tracking 52-Hz whale calls from a unique source in
the North Pacific". Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research
Map of the 52-hertz whale's