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I love discussing the absurdities of life. In fact, it can be quite cathartic & fun. This one is going to jump around a bit, but I thought I might turn to the mysteries of the deep.

In a recent diary, I went through some of the cliches & formulas used in the horror genre. A prevalent one is that undiscovered weird shit lives in the shadows, just biding its time to come out & kill us all. Of course, according to Hollywood, all of the best minds of science will utterly fail & we will only be saved by the spunk of a bunch of teenagers. In fact, Salon has an article that ponders why science often comes off so bad in films, with scientists depicted as "as idiosyncratic nerds or actively the villains." The depiction of science as possibly malevolent isn't new (see Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"), and it's usually predicated on the need for conflict & action within a story.

But we will need all the egg-heads if weird shit starts coming at us from space, or up from the ocean depths. So I thought I might write about something called "The Bloop."

As much as I might like to, I can't take credit for the diary title. "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" is going to be the follow-up from Quirk Books to their Jane Austen/George Romero blend "Pride And Prejudice And Zombies," which is in its 16th printing.

But there's nothing to fear. There are no Loch Ness Monsters or Krakens, right? Well... no on 1, probably not on 2. In the last iteration of Totally Irrelevant Crap, I linked to TV Tropes' entry for unclean mockeries of natural law called Eldritch Abomination. Under the section called "Real Life", they list something called "The Bloop." I had never heard about this before & thought it fascinating in a late-night "Mystery Science Theater 3000" B-movie kind of way.

The Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) was originally designed to detect Soviet submarines, and consists of bottom mounted hydrophone arrays at strategic points. It's now used to track & study ocean life, earthquakes, ocean currents, volcanic activity, and the shifting of Antarctic ice. In the Summer of 1997, researchers using the SOSUS network detected ultra-low frequency sound for which the source remains unknown to this day. What is known is that, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the sound originated near 50° S, 100° W (far off the western coast of Chile), and the sound was strong enough that it was able to travel thousands of miles across a noisy ocean.

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.

You can hear it for yourself here, and the image below is a spectrogram of the "Bloop."

According to scientists, the sound "bears the varying frequency hallmark of marine animals," but is far more powerful than the calls made by any known animal on the planet. In fact, if it was made by an animal, it would have to be one that is several times larger than a Blue Whale (the largest animal on Earth). So is it a giant squid-like Kraken of naval lore?

Phil Lobel, a marine biologist at Boston University, Massachusetts, doubts that giant squid are the source of Bloop. "Cephalopods have no gas-filled sac, so they have no way to make that type of noise," he said. "Though you can never rule anything out completely, I doubt it."

The sound has never been heard again since 1997, but let me add this last bit of nightmare fuel. The location of the sound is very near the latitude & longitude given by H. P. Lovecraft for the location of R'lyeh; the fictional sunken city where Cthulhu sleeps. So, best case scenario it's some sort of unknown seismic/volcanic anomaly. Slightly less good scenario, a giant scary ass squid. Worst case scenario, we recorded a Great Old One snoring as he rolled over in his sleep.

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Wed Jul 15, 2009 at 09:35 PM PDT.

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