The Loneliest Whale in the World

7 Mar

What a sad story. I hate to start off a Monday morning with something like this, but it’s just tragically beautiful. I kind of want to go give this whale a hug, even though that would be quite hard. At least he would know someone out there is listening!

If there ever was a member of the Lonely Hearts Club, this is it. This New York Times article from 2004 features the story of a lonely whale. Since 1992, this whale has been tracked by the NOAA using special Navy equipment used to monitor submarines. This particular whale always travels alone, without family, without a mate. Why? Because other whales cannot hear it. Or, they can, but the sound of its voice is not attractive for some reason. This whale sings at 52 Hertz (about the lowest note on a tuba), which is much higher than most whales, whose calls range from 15 to 25 Hertz. For this reason, he’s been nicknamed “the 52 Hertz whale.”

This whale also doesn’t follow normal whale migration routes, making it difficult to run into others on the freeway. So this whale just keeps swimming around the vast ocean, alone, with no one to talk to. He keeps sending out a call that no one is answering. It’s thought that this whale is possibly a hybrid between two different species, is deaf, or the last surviving member of an unknown species. It’s difficult to tell, because apparently no one has ever seen the whale. In the way that his fellow whales have never heard him, we apparently have never seen him.

I think there’s a poignant metaphor in there about the alienation of mankind: how we still feel alone, even while swimming in the vast ocean of everything around us. We cry out and are not always heard. Sadly, for some of us, we never will be. It’s a thoughtful wake-up call to sit up and pay attention to those in your life that might be communicating without being heard. It just goes to show that, no matter the species, we’re all looking to be heard, to find meaningful relationships, to spend our lives with loved ones. It doesn’t seem likely, but I hope this whale finds the companionship it’s so desperately seeking. I hope we all do.


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