The year was 1997. Yours truly was graduating from high school, no doubt wearing a braided belt and some sort of Phish tee shirt while hard-working scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were trying to figure out what in the hell they had just recorded from deep, deep in the Pacific Ocean. It was a sound captured with an autonomous hydrophone array that would become known simply as the Bloop.
According to the NOAA:
“This sound was repeatedly recorded during summer, 1997 on the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array. The sound rises 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 km. It yields a general location near 50oS; 100oW. The origin of the sound is unknown.”
Unknown, yet apparently very loud as underwater sounds go since it’s got a range of over 3,000 miles. CNN reported in 2002 that “It is too big for a whale and one theory is that it is a deep sea monster, possibly a many-tentacled squid,” while more skeptical theories range from deep sea vents to manmade undersea weapons to known animals such as whales.
Here is the sound provided by the NOAA, which the organization sped up to 16-times normal speed:
It sounds like a big bubble or something. Very bloopy indeed.
While the official line remains that “the origin of the sound is unknown,” Wikipedia says:
“NOAA’s system ruled out its origin as any known man-made sound, such as a submarine or bomb, or familiar geological sounds such as volcanoes or earthquakes. While the audio profile of the bloop does resemble that of a living creature, the system identified it as unknown because it was far too loud for that to have been the case: it was several times louder than the loudest known biological sound.”
The largest known biological sound being the call of the Blue Whale.