The Secrets to Monday Night Drama’s Success By Toshihiko Nishida
There is a whale called “52” or “the loneliest whale in the world”. He sings at a frequency of 52 Hertz (Hz), which is quite different from an ordinary whale’s voice. No other whale can accept nor respond to his call. He is believed to have spent his entire life in solitude despite his efforts.
This heart-wrenching story starts in 1989, when the U.S.Navy discovered a strange, 52 Hz sound with underwater microphones for submarines. Bio-acoustician William Watkins determined the sound was from a solitary whale and began to search for the animal. Unfortunately, Watkins passed away in 2004, and the mission to find the “Lonely Whale” came to a halt.
Though 52’s voice didn’t reach other whales, his story attracted the attention of researchers, media, and the public in our human world. Ordinary people also sent a host of messages: some from whale lovers lamenting his loneliness, some from deaf people speculating that the whale might share their disability, and some from those who identify as a “lonely souls”―and believed the whale represented anyone trying to find someone who accepts us for our weaknesses and faults.
However, when it comes to his “loneliness”, some people don’t agree. For example, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Taylor Swift said, “…everybody feels so sorry for this whale―but what if this whale is having a great time? He might be celebrating his alone-ness.”
In 2015, over 10 years since Watkins passed away, a new search for 52 was launched on the crowd-funding platform, Kickstarter. This project hopes to not only find 52, but also study hybrid whales by tagging them with hi-tech sound techniques (52 is possibly a hybrid of a fin whale and blue whale). This gives us a chance to know how man-made ocean noises could affect communication among sea creatures, such as 52. And this project also plans to make a documentary film, whose director, Josh Zeman, states, “All will be revealed in the film,”