Somewhere off the west coast of British Columbia wanders a whale—at least, his voice can be heard there. He appears to be alone.
Simply by eavesdropping, scientists have deduced a few details about this whale. He swims the cold waters of the North Pacific, probably in pursuit of food and love. In all likelihood, he is a baleen whale: a long, grey tanker with a pointed head and generous lower jaw. For food, he would chase clouds of plankton and tiny shrimp-like creatures called krill, gulping gallons of water into his mouth and pushing it all out through two long furry-looking plates sprouting from the roof of his mouth where one would expect teeth. These plates, called baleen, filter krill and other crustaceans out of the expelled water. Miraculously, these tiny creatures are all the sustenance this giant mammal needs to survive.
The baleen whale suborder includes blue whales (above) and fin whales. 52 Hertz could be either. (Photo: Creative Commons)
For love, he calls out in long, low moans. Each intonation lasts anywhere from five to fifteen seconds, and he waits up to thirty seconds between each cry, taking ten minute breaks between each song. He will sing like this for hours. His voice carries for miles, and any females nearby would surely take note of his voice’s strength and range, the variety of his repertoire, the duration of his song. In the murky dark where a whale can barely see its own tail, the quality of these musical elements should prove that he is a worthy mate.
Despite his efforts, he receives no reply. Meet 52 Hertz: the loneliest whale in the world.