New whale call, dubbed ‘Western Pacific Biotwang,’ discovered in Mariana Trench

Below the surface of the world’s deepest waters, above the Mariana Trench, researchers have discovered a strange sound they say could be a new baleen whale call.

Baleen whales are known for their distinctive songs. This particular sound, which researchers nicknamed the Western Pacific Biotwang, lasts between 2.5 and 3.5 seconds and includes five separate parts with a dramatic range of frequencies, from a low 38 hertz to a “metallic finale” of 8,000 hertz. The findings were published in the The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America by researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resource Studies, a partnership between Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It’s very distinct, with all these crazy parts,” Sharon Nieukirk, a senior faculty research assistant in marine bioacoustics at Oregon State University and the lead author of the study, said in a university press release. “The low-frequency moaning part is typical of baleen whales, and it’s that kind of twangy sound that makes it really unique. We don’t find many new baleen whale calls.”

The Mariana Trench, which runs between Japan and Australia, plunges to depths of about 36,000 feet and is the deepest known part of any ocean on Earth. Until recently, scientists assumed that these murky depths were quiet, but in a separate study this spring, a research team discovered that it was actually abuzz with sound.

“You would think that the deepest part of the ocean would be one of the quietest places on Earth,” Robert Dziak, a NOAA research oceanographer and chief scientist on the project, said in a March statement. “Yet there really is almost constant noise from both natural and man-made sources.” READ MORE.