Science

Mystery About 'Alien Call' Heard From Mariana Trench Now Solved

By Dan Niel , Dec 21, 2016 02:04 PM EST
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Researchers have finally solved the issue of the eerie sounds heard from the deepest part of the earth's oceans. The mysterious noise heard from Mariana Trench includes deep moans measured at 38 hertz a metallic sound as high as 8,000 hertz. Hatfield Marine Science Centre scientists named the sound as "Western Pacific Biotwang (WPB)."

According to a report, a dwarf minke whale might be responsible for the so-called "alien call." The sound was recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in July 2015 when the scientists used a microphone to capture sounds 36,000 feet into the Mariana Trench in 3 weeks.

"The ambient sound field is dominated by the sound of earthquakes, both near and far, as well as distinct moans of baleen whales, and the clamor of a category 4 typhoon that just happened to pass overhead," NOAA said.

In a study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, researchers explained it might be a new type of baleen whale call. Baleen whales are found in almost all oceans worldwide, whether in cold polar seas or in tropical zones.

"It's very distinct, with all these crazy parts," Sharon Nieukirk, a researcher at the Oregon State University said. "The low-frequency moaning part is typical of baleen whales, and it's that kind of twangy sound that makes it really unique. We don't find many new baleen whale calls."

She also explained that the WPB is closely similar to the sound created by dwarf minke whales found on the Great Barrier Reef. Minke whales are a type of baleen whales which produce "regionally specific calls."

However, Nieukirk added that they don't know much about minke whale distribution at low latitudes. Minke whales are the smallest species of baleen whales and they are not seen much at the surface. They live in areas with high seas like the Mariana Trench which makes them difficult to observe. The researchers are now planning to study more about the nature of the call.

"Now that we've published these data, we hope researchers can identify this call in past and future data, and ultimately we should be able to pin down the source of the sound," Nieukirk said

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