Sunday Sketch: Whale of a Tale

Have you heard of the loneliest whale in the world? This individual of an unidentified species was first discovered in the North Pacific Ocean in 1989 by a team of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute biologists and earned its unique name because it emits calls at a frequency of 52 hertz, which is much higher than the normal 15-to-25-hertz range of blue or fin whales. This whale’s sound is detected in the Pacific Ocean every year beginning in August–December (Watkins et al., 2004) and as of 2014, it has been detected every year since its discovery.  The biological cause of this unique characteristic is unknown, and to date, it is the only one of its kind detected anywhere, thus earning its nickname. This interesting discovery has led to many artists and musicians making their own renditions of this phenomenon, including a recent song titled Whalein-52 by popular Korean band, BTS (Bulletproof Boy Scouts), where they reflect upon the struggles of such a long and lonesome existence.

Fun fact & sketch contributed by Bidisha Chakraborty.

[Edited by Isabelle McDonald-Gilmartin]


Watkins, William A.; Daher, Mary Ann; George, Joseph E.; Rodriguez, David (December 2004). “Twelve years of tracking 52-Hz whale calls from a unique source in the North Pacific”. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers. 51 (12): 1889–1901. doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2004.08.006

Whalein-52 by BTS: 

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