Whales make the best of the oceans they live in. In water, the speed of the sound is about 4 times (1498 meters per second) of that in the air (331 meters per second). They produce special vocalizations for different purposes including socializing and reproduction. The blue whale generate sounds of up to 190 decibels, which is the loudest sound produced by any animal on earth.
Communicating via sound in the ocean is effective
Sound communication in whales is not surprising because sound travels much better in water than it does in air. Its speed in water is 4 times its speed in the air.
Human activity disrupts their communication
Noise in the ocean like sonar disrupts the blue whale communication. This noise produced by humans causes confusion in blue whales.
Sound levels between 155 and 188 decibels
Cummings and Thompson, in 1971 estimated the sounds produced by blue whales ranged between 155 and 188 decibels. Did you know sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss in humans? And 140 decibels is the pain threshold.
Blue whales use sounds for..
Navigating, finding food and communicating with other blue whales located thousands of miles away.
Their sounds frequency can be as low as 14 Hz
Their frequency usually stays between 14 and 40 Hz. Whereas humans lowest frequency is 20 Hz. This is not the same as loudness which is measured in decibels. The frequency tells us how high or low the pitch is. As an examples, the pitch of human female voice is higher than that of males.
Simply put, the voice of the blue whale is really deep and still loud.
Did you know humans ears cannot hear sounds below 20 Hz? Despite being loud, humans can miss hearing blue whale sound due its low frequency.
They are known for producing haunting calls which are deep rhythmic pulses that travel thousands of miles and are yet inaudible to us.
Usually blue whale calls last upto thirty seconds. Furthermore, blue have been known to sing where their call duration lasts for upto two minutes.
Their sound can travel
Types of sounds they produce
Blue whales produce three types of sounds that include long pulses (pulsed calls), buzzes (whistles), and rasps (clicks).
They may also produce sounds using non-vocal methods such as hitting water with tail, rubbing their teeth, or blowing their fins. Non-vocal sounds are usually used to show aggression.
Loudest sounds in the world
The sounds emitted by baleen whales are the strongest produced by an animal, and can reach hundreds or thousands of kilometers underwater.
While humans have managed to know that blue whales use sounds for more purposes than mating, we still don’t know a lot about their mysterious world.
If you want to hear whale sounds, you can visit this Wikipedia page.