Subject: Re: Whale Sounds Extent of travel

Robert Kenney (
Wed, 16 Dec 1998 07:10:17 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 14 Dec 1998, John Welsby wrote:

> Dear Dr Kenney,
> Please could you tell me how far whale sounds can travel. I have read of
> distances of more than 100 miles. Please could you confirm.
(1) Transmission distance is inversely proportional to frequency (in
English - you can hear a cow mooing farther than a sparrow chirping even
if they were equally loud).
(2) In the ocean there is a depth where sounds travel even farther -
called the deep sound channel.
(3) Some whales make very loud low sounds.
(4) Theoretical calculations by Roger Payne and Douglas Webb back in the
1970's said that some whale sounds might even be transmitted all the way
across an ocean.
(5) Researchers using formerly super-secret Navy arrays of undersea
microphones on the bottom of the ocean have detected blue whales and fin
whales by their sounds throughout the deep North Atlantic.
(6) Do whales use this to communicate over long distances?  We can only

Dr. Bob

* Robert D. Kenney, Ph.D.                 *
* University of Rhode Island                      Tel:  (401) 874-6664 *
* Graduate School of Oceanography                 Fax:  (401) 874-6497 *
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* Narragansett, RI, USA  02882-1197                                    *