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Ocean Sounds: The 8 Weirdest Noises of the Antarctic

Sounds from the deep

Antarctic ocean sounds

Antarctic ocean sounds (Image credit: Mario Hoppmann, Alfred-Wegener-Institut)

Beneath the surface of the icy waters of Antarctica, a symphony of sounds can be heard. The Perennial Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean, or PALAOA, records the sounds of whales and other sea life, icebergs and mysterious phenomena from an unmanned research station located near the Neumayer Station on the ice shelf of Atka Bay.

Humpback whale

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are know for the mating songs of the males, most often heard in tropical waters.

Antarctic minke whale

The Antarctic minke whale or southern minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis) is a type of baleen whale, recently identified as the source of a mysterious duck-like sound.

Killer whale

Killer whales (Orcinus orca), also known as orcas, emit a wide array of whistles and clicks for echolocation.

Weddel seal

Male Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) emit whistling sounds to defend females, and both males and females emit chirps.

'Singing' icebergs

Scientists don't know how icebergs make these sounds, but they are related to the icebergs' movement.

Icebergs breaking off

Now and then, large pieces of the Antarctic ice shelf break off in a process known as calving.

Icebergs colliding

The collision of two icebergs produced the loudest sounds ever recorded by PALAOA.

Mysterious sounds

Scientists don't know the origin of many sounds recorded by PALAOA, or even whether they are man-made or not.

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.