50-year mystery of the ocean ‘quack’ finally solved by scientists
Scientists discover that Antarctic minke whales are responsible for bizarre acoustic phenomenon that has baffled experts since the 1960s
It was a bizarre phenomenon that troubled researchers for decades – a mysterious under sea ‘quacking’ heard every winter and spring in the depths of the Southern Ocean.
But now experts believe they have finally established the origin of the noise. They say that the distinctive duck-like sound is produced by the undersea chatter of Antarctic minke whales.
According to Biology Letters, researchers attached microphones to two of the marine mammals and heard them making the strange sound.
It was first detected by submarines in the 1960s and since then, the repetitive, low-frequency noise has been recorded many times in deep, uncharted waters around the Antarctic and western Australia.
At first, scientists believed the noise could have come from another submarine. Others posed theories involving ships and fish, but none have provided conclusive evidence until now.
Denise Risch, lead researcher for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), said: “Over the years there have been several suggestions... but no-one was able to really show this species was producing the sound until now.
“It was either the animal carrying the tag or a close-by animal of the same species producing the sound”.
Scientists don’t know why the minke whales produce the sound, but it is believed to be a form of communication between the mammals.
The team hope that the discovery of the sound’s origin will allow them to learn more about the whales, which have rarely been studied.
“Identifying their sounds will allow us to use passive acoustic monitoring to study this species,” Dr Risch said.
“That can give us the timing of their migration - the exact timing of when the animals appear in Antarctic waters and when they leave again - so we can learn about migratory patterns”.
Scientists have recently solved another acoustic mystery in the depths of the South ocean. A low frequency noise called ‘the bloop’ was found to have been caused by the sound of ice cracking.
- 1 Enrique Iglesias injured trying to catch a drone mid concert
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Annie Leibovitz shot Vanity Fair cover
- 3 Arsenal players boo chief-executive Ivan Gazidis after being told they would not get bonus for FA Cup triumph
- 4 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 5 UK weather: Temperatures set to soar making parts of Britain hotter than parts of the Mediterranean
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...