Bloop was an ultra-low-frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The sound was consistent with the noises generated by icequakes in large icebergs, or large icebergs scraping the ocean floor, but in 2002 was said to also be consistent with large marine animals. NOAA believes it has now analyzed it conclusively and the noise was ice-related. However the true source of the sound still remains unknown.
The sound's source was roughly triangulated to 50°S 100°W / 50°S 100°WCoordinates: 50°S 100°W / 50°S 100°W (a remote point in the south Pacific Ocean west of the southern tip of South America), and the sound was detected several times by the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array. This system was developed as an autonomous array of hydrophones that could be deployed in any oceanographic region to monitor specific phenomena. It is primarily used to monitor undersea seismicity, ice noise, and marine mammal population and migration. This is a stand-alone system designed and built by NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) to augment NOAA's use of the U.S. Navy Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS), which was equipment originally designed to detect Soviet submarines.
Bloop at 16x the original speed, from the NOAA website.
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According to the NOAA description, it "r[ose] rapidly in frequency over about one minute and was of sufficient amplitude to be heard on multiple sensors, at a range of over 5,000 kilometres (3,000 mi)." The NOAA's Dr. Christopher Fox did not believe its origin was man-made, such as a submarine or bomb, nor familiar geological events such as volcanoes or earthquakes. While the audio profile of Bloop does resemble that of a living creature, the source was a mystery both because it was different from known sounds and because it was several times louder than the loudest recorded animal, the blue whale. A number of other significant sounds have been named by NOAA: Julia, Train, Slow Down, Whistle and Upsweep.
Fox's hunch is that the sound nicknamed Bloop is the most likely to come from some sort of animal, because its signature is a rapid variation in frequency similar to that of sounds known to be made by marine beasts. There's one crucial difference, however: in 1997 Bloop was detected by sensors up to 4,800 kilometres (3,000 mi) apart. That means it must be far louder than any whale noise, or any other animal noise for that matter. Is it even remotely possible that some creature bigger than any whale is lurking in the ocean depths? Or, perhaps more likely, something that is much more efficient at making sound?— David Wolman
In a 13-minute segment in the second episode of the show Weird or What, various theories of Bloop were discussed in further depth by academic expert guests: that it might have been an animal (Fox himself is quoted therein); that it might have been manmade objects (sonar experts are consulted); or, it might have been an icequake.
The NOAA Vents Program has since attributed the sound to that of a large icequake. Numerous icequakes share similar spectrograms with Bloop, as well as the amplitude necessary to spot them despite ranges exceeding 5000 km. This was found during the tracking of iceberg A53a as it disintegrated near South Georgia Island in early 2008. If this is indeed the origin of Bloop, the iceberg(s) involved in generating the sound were most likely between Bransfield Straits and the Ross Sea; or possibly at Cape Adare, a well-known source of cryogenic signals.
- The roughly triangulated origin of Bloop is approximately 950 nautical miles (1,760 km) from the more precisely-described location of R'lyeh, a sunken extra-dimensional city written of by H. P. Lovecraft in his popular short story "The Call of Cthulhu".
- A fiction TV show in the form of a documentary titled Mermaids: The Body Found used the bloop sound as evidence for the existence of mermaids or an unknown species in the oceans. NOAA posted a refutation on their web site.
- The Deep, Australian/Canadian co-produced animated television series featured the bloop in Episode 23, Bloop, to suggest that it was a new unique species of communicating coral threatened by an underwater mining machine.
- "Acoustics Monitoring Program - Icequakes (Bloop)". Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory. NOAA.gov. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- David Wolman (2002-06-15). "Calls from the deep". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 2013-01-06. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- "Animal Records". Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Retrieved 2010-09-26.
- "Tuning in to a deep sea monster". CNN. 2002-06-13. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Spectrograms - VENTS program". Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory. NOAA.gov. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
- "Scientists tune in to sounds of the sea". CNN. 2001-09-07. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
- "Ghost Ship". Weird or What?. 28 April 2010. Discovery.
- "Terror Eternal: The enduring popularity of H.P. Lovecraft". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
- Jonathan Strickland. "Cthulhu goes Bloop". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Sean Michael Ragan (2009-11-16). "The Bloop of Cthulhu". Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Zabarenko, Deborah (6 July 2012). "This just in: Mermaids are NOT real, U.S. agency says". Reuters. Washington. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
- Carlson, Trent (2016-04-01), Bloop, retrieved 2016-07-15
- A second datafile and spectrograms of Bloop, with NOAA cited sources
- Wired article about Bloop in which NOAA asserts its own animal-origin hypothesis was never serious