An odd song of a lone, unidentified whale was first picked up by U.S. Navy microphones in the Pacific ocean off the coast of California in 1989. The strange songs continue to be recorded. No one knows really who sings them. Marine biologists don't know if all the songs are even actually sung by just one whale. Many marine biologists believe them to be.
What's different about the songs is they are sung at 52 hertz, a much higher frequency than known whales sing. On the recordings, the calls or songs have never been answered by other whales. This has lead to the speculation by many that the whale is lonely. That he is one of a kind and can not communicate with others. Some marine scientists dispute this view.
A marine scientist named Bill Watkins, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, studied the songs for many years. He was never able to determine the singer or even the species before he died.
The mystery whale has become known as the Watkins' Whale or The 52 Hertz-whale. A group of marine scientists and film makers went in search of the whale in 2015. They have been very quiet about their results. The movie about the whale called, 52: The Mystery of the Loneliest Whale, will come out sometime in 2017. Maybe it will have some answers.
I wrote to one of the scientists that was consulted on the film, John Hildebrand from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He told me that one solid theory is that the whale is a hybrid cross between a blue whale and a fin whale. He said its song has elements of both these species. The whale has the same migratory pattern as a blue whale.
It's hard to find an individual whale in a whole ocean. Perhaps the answer of what or who the whale is (new species, hybrid fin/blue, deaf whale), is still a mystery. I am half hoping that it is. I like to think there is a creature or two we don't know much about living in the ocean. Leaves a little left to our imagination, like my painting of the 52 Hertz-whale.
I just hope the 52 Hertz-whale keeps on singing for a while longer and that he is not really lonely.
To hear 52's song click here.