Awesome Animal Fact:
Did you know whales are the loudest animals on Earth? In a previous post I explained that an insect called the water boatman is the loudest animal for its size. But what about the loudest animal overall, looking only at pure decibels? Well, the answer isn't that straightforward... it could be the blue whale, or it could be the sperm whale, depending on how you look at it.
I'll explain. In pure decibels, the blue whale can produce sounds at an amazing 180 decibels. For reference, a jet engine is at a deafening 140 decibels. In humans, prolonged exposure to any sound over 85 decibels results in hearing loss. So, the blue whale is really loud.
However, the sperm whale has been shown to create sounds at 233 decibels, the loudest sound ever measured from any animal.
So, why isn't the sperm whale the clear winner? Because the intensity of a decibel is dependent on how we perceive the sound, relative to its frequency measured in hertz. In humans, our hearing threshold is different for sounds of different frequencies. Blue whales make low, drawn-out moans that can travel up to 1,000 miles (1,600 km) under water. In contrast, sperm whales make brief clicks, used for echolocation. This echolocation ability is impressive, sometimes detecting squid up to a mile away, but the sounds don't travel nearly as far as blue whale moans.
A blue whale's calls are low frequency, only 20 hertz, so low that humans can't even hear the sounds until they get above 70 decibels. A sperm whale's clicks are at a much higher frequency, at 10,000 hertz, and humans can hear them at only 15 decibels. Not only that, blue whale moans last 20 to 30 seconds, whereas sperm whale clicks last only 100 microseconds.
Below is a sperm whale.
- Sperm whale - DepositPhotos
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