Swan Songs: The Lonely Call of Nature

The whale known as 52 has captured the attention of celebrities from Leo DiCaprio to BTS, the South Korean boy band who recorded a popular song about what it's like to be the only whale of its kind in the ocean. 

The lone whale’s song was first detected by a classified underwater surveillance system designed for the Cold War era. It sounded so distinct from any other whale sounds that it sounded mechanical. At first, the speculation was it could be a Russian or Chinese submarine.

For 12 years, the sound, coming from the whale, named 52 for the frequency of its song, was tracked. No other whale has ever responded.

The songs animals sings tell us something about our own loneliness. In Southeast Asia, people capture wild songbirds to be caged and forced to sing only for humans and for decades, whales were hunted and killed for their oil and meat. But the songs of animals are not meant for us to hear alone. They are sung in order for animals to connect to each other and it's up to us to decide whether we are ready to hear the song of the lonely.


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