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Alien Call: Ghostly Weeping Sound Under Mariana Trench Identified

Dec 20, 2016 04:30 AM EST
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A ghostly noise that was recorded near the Mariana Trench has finally been identified. According to the researchers at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, who documented the vocalization, the sound could have been a never before heard whale call from a minke whale.

"It's very distinct, with all these crazy parts," says Sharon Nieukirk from Oregon State University, one of the team members, in a press release.

"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."

The vocalization has been dubbed the "Western Pacific Biotwang." The researchers shared the recording which was taken by ocean glider instruments which dove down to 1,000 m (3,281 ft) below the surface to record the sound.which lasted for less than four seconds. Science Alert notes that the vocalization is made up of five parts and spans frequencies as low as 38 hertz and as high as 8,000 hertz .

New Atlas reported that the closest match for the peculiarity of the Western Pacific Biotwang are the vocalizations emitted by dwarf minke whales around the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Australia. The sounds have been dubbed as "star wars" as it sounded like lightsabers.

"We don't really know that much about minke whale distribution at low latitudes," said Nieukirk, lead author on the study.

"The species is the smallest of the baleen whales, doesn't spend much time at the surface, has an inconspicuous blow, and often lives in areas where high seas make sighting difficult. But they call frequently, making them good candidates for acoustic studies."

The scientists cannot be sure yet whether what the calls mean. They highly doubt if it is a mating call since it occurs all year round.

Results were recently published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

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