Weddell seals: Nature’s electronic synthesizer

weddell_sealsImage: Weddell seal mother and pup swim near a breathing hole in the ice.  Source:

Just watched Werner Herzog’s 2007 documentary Encounters at the End of the World, and learned some amazing things.

First, Werner Herzog has a really annoying voice.  If you ever wanted to hear a middle-aged German doing a poor impression of Peter Lorre, he’s your man.  That wasn’t particularly amazing, though.

No, the amazing thing was hearing recordings of Weddell seals.  A scientist at the seal camp described it as “non-organic”.  That’s putting it mildly.  Go to this page, scroll down to the bottom, and have a listen to a male Weddell seal

1. mating call     
.  Apparently on quiet nights, you can actually hear them broadcasting away, even through the 6-foot-thick ice shelf.

Now the obvious question is, why hasn’t an enterprising animal behaviorist trained a bunch of Weddell seals to perform Peter Howell’s version of the 1980-1985 Doctor Who theme?

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