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Uncovering the Origin of the Mysterious Metallic Sounds of the Mariana Trench

by Cristina Costea

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It’s a well-known fact that the Earth’s waters still retain many secrets. Suffice to say that it’ll be quite a long time (if ever) before scientists will be able to uncover all there is to know about the deepest parts of the world’s oceans. 

The deepest part of the world’s oceans is found in the western Pacific Ocean, remains a deep-buried secret. While many climbers have successfully scaled the world’s tallest mountain, Everest, only two people have descended to the globe’s deepest point. Furthermore, the otherworldly sounds recorded near the Mariana Trench has been baffling scientists for quite some time.

A few months ago, researchers from the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center recorded a weird and metallic sound emanating from the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest known part of the world’s oceans, measuring a whopping 1,580 miles (2,550 kilometers) deep. 

In case this news is completely new to you, we invite you to listen in to the chilling and peculiar sound by checking out the clip below: 


Video credit: SciNews YouTube Account


The sounds were picked up by the researchers while they were monitoring whales using a hydrophone, a device that can be lowered deep within the trench and record the sounds that come from within.

So, what creature produced the strange 3.5 second sound? Well, the mystery may have finally been ‘solved’ and the origin of the sound is likely to be whales!


The Dwarf Minke Whales are thought to be the source of the mysterious sound of Mariana Trench

Image credit: The Whale Diaries

The Western Pacific Biotwang is what the researchers are calling the sound and it is thought to be a mix between the sounds made by dwarf minke whales, a type of baleen whales.

Sharon Nieukirk, Senior Marine Bioacoustics researcher at the Oregon State University explains:

"It’s very distinct, with all these crazy parts. 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. We don’t really know that much about minke whale distribution at low latitudes. If it’s a mating call, why are we getting it year round? That’s a mystery."

While the team of researchers unanimously agrees that the sound is most likely coming from a living creature, most likely a type of whale, and not a geophysical source, such as earthquakes, they can not officially pin down the source of the sound. This is because they have yet produced concrete data on genetic, acoustic and visual identification in order to confirm the source of the sound and find out for sure how the sounds are being used.

In short, there is still much work to be done to find out what exactly is producing the sound and why. This just goes to show how much we don’t know about our own planet – especially when it comes down to the oceans. 


Feel like doing a bit of exploration of the world’s vast oceans yourself? How about sticking to the coastline and go on a fun-filled surf camp in Asia

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