Back in the 1960’s submarines detected a bizarre “quacking” sound in the southern ocean and have been perplexed as to its origins ever since. The noise – nicknamed the “bio-duck” – was only heard during winter and spring months and was attributed to everything from ships to fish, but no-one really knew what was making the noise and until now it was purely guess work.
Researchers using novel acoustic recorders now claim to have conclusive evidence that the “bio-duck” is actually the chattering of the Antarctic minke whale. Although there are still lots of questions surrounding the production of the strange quacking noise they do know that the vocalisations appear to be made close to the surface and before the whales embark on a deep dive to find food.
More research needs to be undertaken but one exciting result of this positive identification of the noise means that more can be learnt about the migratory routes of these elusive whales as currently little is known about their movements.
Interestingly, although not published, similar “quacking” calls have been recorded from minke whales in the winter months in the North Atlantic. So perhaps it’s not just the Antarctic minke whales who are making these sounds … or perhaps they’re travelling much further than anyone ever thought?
If one thing is for sure, we’ve still got much to learn about these amazing creatures.
Listen to the sound made by the whales, courtesy of livescience.