Skip to comments.Sounds from the deep baffle scientists
Posted on 06/12/2002 7:52:44 PM PDT by chasio649
Sounds from the deep baffle scientists
Mysterious giant beasts may lurk in the darkest depths of the ocean, making whale-like noises that are baffling scientists.
Researchers have nicknamed the strange unidentified sound picked up by undersea microphones "Bloop".
While it bears the varying frequency hallmark of marine animals, it is far more powerful than the calls made by any creature known on Earth.
In 1997, Bloop was detected by sensors up to 3,000 miles apart, New Scientist magazine reports.
One suggestion is that the sound is coming from giant squid, which live at extreme depths of up to two and a half miles.
However Phil Lobel, a marine biologist at Boston University in Massachusetts, US, doubts that giant squid are the source of Bloop.
"Cephalopods have no gas-filled sac, so they have no way to make that type of noise," he said. "Though you can never rule anything out completely, I doubt it."
The system picking up Bloop and other strange noises from the deep is a military relic of the Cold War. In the 1960s the US Navy set up an array of underwater microphones, or hydrophones, around the globe to track Soviet submarines.
The listening stations lie at a depth where sound waves become trapped in a layer of water known as the "deep sound channel". Here temperature and pressure cause sound waves to keep travelling without being scattered.
Scientists believe most very low frequency noises - given names such as Train, Whistle, Slowdown and Upsweep - can be explained by ocean currents, volcanic activity , or the movement of Antarctic ice. But Bloop remains a tantalising mystery.
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Assuming the temperature in a whale remains about the same, the volume of the ideal gas in inversely proportional to the pressure. At great depth where the pressure is 1000 times what it is on the surface, the ideal gas is compressed to 1/1000 of its volume. Fart gas might not be the ideal gas, but it acts like an ideal gas. Assuming intestinal gas production continues at the same rate at great depth as on the surface, after half an hour there will be a fair amount by weight but at small, insignificant volume. When the whale comes back up, the gas expands by a factor of 1000. That's when it has to let go. A whale ascent from the deeps is accompanied by a great deal of farting and burping. The real question is whether the whale surfaces ahead of or later than the bubbles.
That's a heckuva understatement!
Assuming intestinal gas production continues at the same rate at great depth as on the surface, after half an hour there will be a fair amount by weight but at small, insignificant volume.
I don't know that this is a valid assumption.
In my humble experience, fart gas production doesn't seem to be a continuous process, but in rather abrupt, discrete batches. (and sometimes indiscrete as well.)
I do, however, agree with what would happen if the whale tried to "hold it" until he/she reached the surface: it'd be like a humongous puffer fish blown up bigger than the Goodyear Blimp.
LOL! That's a good one! Inquiring minds want to know...8-)
(forgive me, had to say that)
Thus the origin of the whaler's alert: "Thar she blows!"
Must be a local custom....
Sperm whales do have teeth, but I have never heard of aggression towards boats. Strangely enough, I just happened to be thinking of this sound thing earler today. It was on some Discovery show, and they played a recording of it. While the article seems fairly adamant that no known animal could make the noise, whales can generate very powerful sound. I recall an incident where an underwater diver was temporarily stunned by the call of a baby sperm whale. It is suspected that Sperm whales may use sound as a weapon to stun squid. Also, it is believed that some whales can communicate over hundreds of miles using powerful sound.
A politician asked to tell the truth?
Well, it was just a theory anyway.
With Jacques Cousteau no longer with us, I suppose we'll never know for sure.
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