Soon after a team led by University of Oregon biologist Paul Cziko installed the McMurdo Oceanographic Observatory in 2017, the mesmerising calls of Weddell seals roaming under Antarctica’s sea ice often lulled scientists to sleep.
Two years of recordings since then, though, have led to a startling discovery. The seals, the world’s southernmost-ranging mammal, regularly produce chirps, whistles and trills at frequencies that are inaudible to humans.
“The Weddell seals’ calls create an almost unbelievable, otherworldly soundscape under the ice,” said Cziko, a visiting research professor in the UO’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution, about the seals’ usual vocalisations. “It really sounds like you’re in the middle of a space battle in ‘Star Wars,’ laser beams and all.” MORE
Header image: University of Oregon.