Dwarf Minke Whales-Star Wars Sound

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ambience: Dwarf Minke Whale “Star Wars sound”

The sounds we’re listening to were recorded underwater off the coast of Australia. And although similar sounds have been heard in the world’s oceans for many years, their identity was unknown until fair recently. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“People have recorded their sounds for about 50 or so years. They’re described as the boing, the Boing Fish, the Guitar Fish, the razor, and these were all because people didn’t know what produced these sounds. When we first recorded it on the Great Barrier Reef, we called it the Star Wars sound because it sounded like a ray gun out of a Star Wars movie. “

Jason Gedamke is a Graduate student at the University of California in Santa Cruz. He thought that the sounds were produced by a species of whale.

“I sent my recordings to some experts in the field of whale acoustics. And one of the people that responded to me actually sent back the sound, he said ‘thank you for your very interesting sounds. But I don’t believe that anything biological could have produced them.’ And he actually told me to take a look and see if the Australian navy was running some type of operations in the area.”

Jason Gedamke was ultimately able to show that these sounds were in fact made by a Dwarf Minke Whale.

“It actually took a very long time to bed able to prove that these sounds do come from the Minke Whale. Because they are so unusual there was a lot of skepticism out there. And what we did was essentially locate where a sound was being produced over many, many hours and hours and many, many different field seasons. We would locate the sound and look in the area for whales, and we were able to, on hundreds of occasions at this point, locate sounds and then visually verify that there were whales within meters of where we located the sounds.”

We’ll hear more on Minke Whales in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

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Dwarf Minke Whales-Star Wars Sound

For fifty years, these underwater sounds were a unsolved mystery.
Air Date:03/30/2005
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: Dwarf Minke Whale "Star Wars sound"

The sounds we're listening to were recorded underwater off the coast of Australia. And although similar sounds have been heard in the world's oceans for many years, their identity was unknown until fair recently. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"People have recorded their sounds for about 50 or so years. They're described as the boing, the Boing Fish, the Guitar Fish, the razor, and these were all because people didn’t know what produced these sounds. When we first recorded it on the Great Barrier Reef, we called it the Star Wars sound because it sounded like a ray gun out of a Star Wars movie. "

Jason Gedamke is a Graduate student at the University of California in Santa Cruz. He thought that the sounds were produced by a species of whale.

"I sent my recordings to some experts in the field of whale acoustics. And one of the people that responded to me actually sent back the sound, he said 'thank you for your very interesting sounds. But I don’t believe that anything biological could have produced them.' And he actually told me to take a look and see if the Australian navy was running some type of operations in the area."

Jason Gedamke was ultimately able to show that these sounds were in fact made by a Dwarf Minke Whale.

"It actually took a very long time to bed able to prove that these sounds do come from the Minke Whale. Because they are so unusual there was a lot of skepticism out there. And what we did was essentially locate where a sound was being produced over many, many hours and hours and many, many different field seasons. We would locate the sound and look in the area for whales, and we were able to, on hundreds of occasions at this point, locate sounds and then visually verify that there were whales within meters of where we located the sounds."

We'll hear more on Minke Whales in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music