Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sounds that Shake the Ocean Floor

Recently I ran across an article by Chris Palmer in “The Scientist.” It was entitled Cetacean Cacophony and reported on fin whale calls. These were picked up by seafloor seismometers that were really trying to track the sounds of earthquakes. Turns out that although fin whales are distributed globally, they mostly live in the open ocean, far from coastlines. I was surprised to learn that they are the second longest animals this planet has ever seen. At 90 feet in length, they are only slightly shorter than blue whales. Elusive they may be; they can make relatively deafening sounds. The fin whale calls were picked up and recorded by seismometers. “The underwater sounds often approached 190 decibels, which translates to 130 decibels in the air—equivalent to the intensity of a jet engine and loud enough to shake the ocean floor.” The second longest animal on the planet making sounds loud enough to shake the ocean floor? Now that makes a visualization for my brain!

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