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The Heartbreaking Story of the World’s Loneliest Whale

Having to roam the world in search of company, constantly calling out for a mate but never getting an answer sounds terrifying and sad, which is why so many around the world empathize with ’52’, the loneliest whale in the world.

The solitary whale, named after the distinctive 52 hertz frequency of its call, belongs to an unknown, unidentified species. The sound it produces is just above the lowest note on a tuba – clearly that of a whale, but one that no other whale in the world shares or recognizes. So it roams the world’s largest ocean, year after year, desperately calling out for a mate but never finding one.

Interestingly, 52 has never actually been seen; only its forlorn love songs have been picked up by navy sonar detectors, but never accompanied by another whale call. This phenomenon is so intriguing that scientists have closely been monitoring the frequency since it was first detected by William Watkins of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1989. He happened to be studying the mating calls of male whales in the North Pacific, when he came across the anomaly of 52.

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