[FoRK] The Loneliest Mystery of the Deep
jbone at place.org
Tue Dec 21 21:54:38 PST 2004
No doubt --- except I'm not sure the law of large numbers (population
of progenitor species) * the rate of positive (survivable) mutation
would necessitate this in any given progenitor whale species. Not that
I would have an opinion about this even six months ago, yet lately I'm
less a software architect than a meta-evolution architect: "breeding"
trading strategies. Very exciting --- feeding my insomnia to an
unprecedented extent --- yet very, very difficult / confusing. I'm
becoming convinced that LaMarckian evolution + some sort of memetic
mechanism has a much larger influence in viable phenotypic
(+behavioral) variation than previously expected...
On Dec 21, 2004, at 9:24 PM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> Simple mutation would explain this.
> Jeff Bone wrote:
>> I found this strangely affecting...
>> The Loneliest Mystery of the Deep (Science)
>> By circletimessquare
>> Tue Dec 21st, 2004 at 05:53:38 AM EST
>> For the last 12 years, a single solitary whale whose vocalizations
>> match no known living species has been tracked across the Northeast
>> Pacific. Its wanderings match no known migratory patterns of any
>> living whale species. Its vocalizations have also subtly deepened
>> over the years, indicating that the whale is maturing and ageing.
>> And, during the entire 12 year span that it has been tracked, it has
>> been calling out for contact from others of its own kind.
>> It has received no answer. Nor will it ever.
>> You can listen to the lonely whale at the NOAA. Its call is at 52
>> hertz, which is roughly that of a low note on a Tuba.
>> The New Scientist informs us that blue whales call out at 15-20
>> hertz. Fin whales at 20 hertz. Humpbacks sing at much higher
>> All of these whales are types of baleen whale. These large whales do
>> not make noises to echo-locate, but instead for purposes of courtship
>> and kinship, maintaining pod formation. The noises are also of very
>> low frequency—infrasonic—which also means the vocalizations travel
>> for very long distances on the order of hundred of kilometers. Here
>> are some samples.
>> The strange 52 hertz deep sea noise is not only from a whale, but,
>> based on the noise's characteristics, is most definitely from a kind
>> of baleen whale, says Mary Ann Daher, who recently cowrote a research
>> paper on the subject in the journal Deep Sea Research:
>> The calls were noticed first in 1989, and have been detected and
>> tracked since 1992. No other calls with similar characteristics have
>> been identified in the acoustic data from any hydrophone system in
>> the North Pacific basin. Only one series of these 52-Hz calls has
>> been recorded at a time, with no call overlap, suggesting that a
>> single whale produced the calls. The calls were recorded from August
>> to February with most in December and January. The species producing
>> these calls is unknown. The tracks of the 52-Hz whale were different
>> each year, and varied in length from 708 to 11,062 km with travel
>> speeds ranging from 0.7 to 3.8 km/h. Tracks included (A) meandering
>> over short ranges, (B) predominantly west-to-east movement, and (C)
>> mostly north-to-south travel. These tracks consistently appeared to
>> be unrelated to the presence or movement of other whale species
>> (blue, fin and humpback) monitored year-round with the same
>> The research that discovered the strange whale is the brainchild of
>> William Watkins of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a
>> pioneer in studying marine mammals via acoustics. Unfortunately, he
>> passed away recently in September 2004, but his work continues at the
>> Enter the US Navy and their SOSUS program, whose purpose during the
>> Cold War was the identification of submarines via deep sea
>> microphones, or hydrophones, sunken to the ocean floor. Declassified
>> recordings from the program have been a blessing for studying whales
>> and other deep sea animals who make acoustic calls. At the same time,
>> the US Navy recently got in trouble when its SURTASS LFA program to
>> saturate the deep with infrasonic sound for active rather than
>> passive detection of enemy subs threatened to deafen and kill marine
>> animals, especially mammals.
>> The mystery of the solitary whale has captured the imagination.
>> Hypotheses as to its identity include the possibility that the whale
>> is deaf, that it is a hybrid of two species, or that it is sick or
>> malformed (although unlikely, since it has survived for more than 12
>> Or perhaps, if you want to get weird, you can note for fun that this
>> story matches the plot of a Star Trek Movie. But Leonard Nimoy did
>> not pen this story; it is for real.
>> Whatever the identity of this strange unidentified alien whale, it
>> is, for now, the very definition of poetic, existential loneliness,
>> in both time and space. The whale is somewhere wandering the
>> Northeast Pacific, right now, in a rudderless, aimless track. And
>> right now the lonely beast could be calling out for others of its
>> kind, and finding none, for over 12 years and counting.
>> Weird and fascinating.
>> Full discussion: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/12/20/184723/82
>> FoRK mailing list
> swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
> Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw
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