Mysterious 'Ocean Quacks' in Antarctica Linked to Whales

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Researchers working in Antarctica have been recording a mysterious quacking sound since the 1960s that they have called the bio-duck. They couldn’t identify the source of the low pitched pulsating sound for fifty years, and thought it might have been manmade because of the sound’s repetition.

Researchers working in Antarctica have been recording a mysterious quacking sound since the 1960s that they nicknamed the ‘bio-duck’.

They couldn’t identify the source of the low pitched pulsating sound for fifty years, and initially thought it might have been manmade because of the sound’s repetition.

A recent study has revealed that the sound is actually being made by Antarctic minke whales.

Recordings over the years show that the sound happens seasonally, and can be heard at the same time each year in the Eastern Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica and in Western Australia.

To discover where the noise was coming from, scientists attached recording devices to two minke whales and compared the noise with recordings of the bio-duck.

Doctor Nick Gales, Chief Scientist in the Australian Antarctic Division is quoted as saying: “A large part of ocean science now uses acoustics for any animals that are making noise because we can discriminate between different populations of animals on the basis of sound and their seasonal occurrence and absence from places, as well as a whole lot of behaviours.”

Having decades of archived recordings means scientists can now understand more about the habits and movement of Antarctic minke whales, which are reportedly difficult to study because they move quickly.

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