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The Lonely Whale's Cry for Love

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 7:26 PM
Img-01 by techgnotic

52 Hertz Whale:

Is Anyone Out There?

Each year he makes his migration south from the Aleutian Islands to a breeding area in the Pacific Ocean parallel to Central California, looking for a mate. Unlike other blue and fin whales, his more than 6000 miles a year round-trip swim is a solitary one. He does not travel along with the blues or the fins, because he is neither. He is most probably either a hybrid blue whale or he is deformed. Sight and smell are virtually worthless as mating signals in the ocean depths, so whales and some other marine denizens rely on their highly complex “love songs” to find his true love. A whale love song has a specific syntax and repeated refrains much like our human songs. A whale composition can last 20 hours. But our one-of-a-kind whale’s songs are ignored each year, because he sings in a 52-Hertz frequency, making his voice much higher pitched than those of the blue or fin whales, typically in the 15-20 hertz range. He is left to make his solitary swim back to the Aleutian’s each year, once again unrequited in love and with no prospects of his condition changing next year.

Do we presume too much by anthropomorphizing that the 52-Hertz Whale is lonely and lovelorn because of his isolation and rejection? Or do these ocean dwellers, not fish but complex-brained mammals of long evolution like us, feel emotions and heartache of a level and intensity similar to our own?

he’s become an international folk hero star with a kickstarter documentary

In Germany, author Agnieszka Jurek has written and illustrated a children’s book about him. British rock band Dalmatian Rex as well as American songwriters Kate Micucci and Laura Ann Bates have recorded songs about him. Film Director Josh Zeman and Documentary Producer Adrian Grenier have embarked on a A Kickstarter-financed documentary film about 52-Hertz Whale that is currently in pre-production. None of this can be of any solace to the 52-Hertz Whale. He is “deaf” to all of it. He speaks and possibly understands only one language — a language most likely only spoken by him. A quirk in evolution led his ancestors back out into the ocean, meaning he would have no hands to write, or paint, or sculpt, or play a musical instrument, or operate a camera. Other than some physically bravadic displays that might suggest dancing, the whale’s song is his sole medium of expression.

There is an immediate exquisite dark humor to be savored in the story of the predicament of the 52-Hertz Whale. But there is also a heartbreaking resonance — an echoing back to each of us that each of us can relate to: that moment when we came to realize and tried to accept that the focus of our heart’s desire, the person into whom we’d already invested so much of our deepest and most sincere love… would not be returning the sentiment; not now and not ever. Each of had to wake up the next day and live on — with there being no reason to live on. Each of us knows (or will one day know) what it is to be a 52-Hertz whale. Each of us has been out there, alone, adrift and treading water in a darkening sea of total despair and hopelessness.

There are no monuments built in the ocean’s depths to mark the lives of our mammalian cousins who reside within the Seven Seas, no record-keeping to tell the tale of a special whale with the most unique singing voice in the whole world – a unique voice that brought him only loneliness and eternal yearning. A whale’s life “history” ends with the last note sung from his last song. Those of us with more media for expression must be the ones to immortalize his story. With the following gallery of deviants’ tributes to “52-Hertz,” we hope to begin the process of making sure his life’s lonely journey is never forgotten.

Director/Producer Joshua Zeman with Executive Producer Adrian Grenier

Behind the scenes of the documentary

Join Adrian Grenier, Josh Zeman & world renowned scientists to find the illusive 52-Hertz Whale and fight Ocean Noise Pollution.

While some Kickstarter crowd-sourced productions have been obvious vanity projects, the 52-Hertz Whale is just the sort of international phenomenon that commands the overwhelming public interest that the crowd-sourced model was created to address.

Here is a story that involves the probable extinction of a type of whale naturalists didn’t know exists, so it’s about the accelerating erosion of our environment.

Here is a story about unrequited “love” – told in song – that resonates between different species of intelligent self-aware mammals.

Here is a story of loneliness to last for the ages, a story of hopelessness and hopefulness that communicates across all the world’s cultural barriers.

This solitary creature of the sea has managed to touch and connect the hearts of all humans who honor those who choose to live their lives despite relentless sorrow and struggle.

You can participate in the Kickstarter campaign to help find the lonely whale.

Interview with Adrian Grenier About his new documentary 52-Hertz Whale

The 52-Hertz Whale, which has become an iconic symbol of ultimate loneliness, has been mostly only heard and barely photographed, taking on a near mythical persona. Your documentary will finally present the flesh-and-blood reality of this most unique creature. Why did you want make the considerable effort to produce a film about this whale? Has your initial perspective changed since you began this quest?

Adrian Grenier

I think that because lonely whale is such a symbolic figure, he will be able to inspire great empathy in people; I was very much interested in exploring all the different ways in which this mythic creature could touch our hearts and motivate us to connect more fully with what's important to us as humans — connecting with others and appreciating our differences.

My perspective has grown and expanded to reach a depth worth of the deepest ocean. Lonely whale is full of nuances and subtleties; his story reflects many different themes and ideas, not just loneliness but those of respecting the environment, interesting history, science, technology and of course our existential condition of loneliness.

Executive Producer Adrian Grenier


An aerial view of a blue whale, NOAA

Are you more interested in the resonance this “lonely in love” whale’s story has created in a worldwide audience or the puzzle of this whale’s initial “appearance” on the sonar of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1989 and his very existence as a one-of-kind in the world? Or do all these conundrums taken together simply have the makings for a phenomenal documentary?

Adrian Grenier

Certainly all of the elements are part of the story and will, in fact, make a fantastic documentary; so I don't think you can extract one from the other. What makes this such an interesting story is how dynamic and far-reaching the story of this single whale will resonate.

Do you have your own personal theory of what (or should we say, “who”) exactly the 52-Hertz Whale “is?” The very last of a hitherto undiscovered species of whale? A hybrid mix, the love child of a blue and a fin whale? A genetically mutated blue whale?

Adrian Grenier

I'll leave the science to the experts, but as a storyteller and filmmaker, I like to focus on the symbolic and metaphoric context of lonely whale's mythology.

Dr. William Watkins tracking of the 52-Hertz Whale

There has been so much research indicating that whales (as well as dolphins) have evolved the same levels of intelligence and emotion as human beings. This fact has been hidden by their absence of hands, which has made civilization-building impossible (and confused them with being “fish”). Do you think he is genuinely perceptually aware of his hopeless situation and truly experiencing the palpable agony of his unending separation, much as any of us would feel it?

Adrian Grenier

I think the answer to this question is less about whether or not lonely whale is aware of his own emotional state as it is about whether or not we are even human if we can't find compassion and use our imagination to empathize and connect with others that are different or who are perhaps on another frequency. It is the most coveted ability for empathy for the world outside ourselves that makes us the most human.


Adrian would like to see what the story of lonely whale inspires in you.

From your unique perspective, what would a portrait of 52-Hertz Whale look like?

What would his lament be in poetic verse?

Submit to DA with hashtag #LonelyWhale

Share your submissions in the comments below. We will showcase the best of the submitted works in a Stock Market feature on the Today Page!

This is one of my favorite paintings I’ve done. In some way or another, we all have a profound longing to be heard, to be seen and to be known. And many of us go on our way without that happening and live in an incredible loneliness. Either there is no one out there, or we put on a mask and hide behind our shame and sins. We let no one know us, hear us, or see us as we are. I didn’t let anybody know me as I truly was. I was too afraid of rejection and being “found out” so I never really let anybody know and love me. And so it was my own fault that I lived in an incredible loneliness. I genuinely found encouragement by this whale to choose to trust others and let them love me through real friendship. The 52-Hertz Whale was such a strange and inspiring story that changed my perspective to help me see that I have an opportunity to be loved and heard. I just have to allow it. The whale, on the other hand, has no opportunity. The least I could do was to do a painting.”

The existence of 52–Hertz Whale is heart-wrenching, but the fact that we’ve drawn on him to be symbolic of loneliness—or strength in loneliness—says a lot about us and our need to be understood, to battle loneliness, even just our need to help others connect. We craft stories about him, for him, and in that small way, even though he’ll never know, there are many who do relate to him even though they don’t speak his same language which is meaningful in so many ways. It’s a testament, I think, to the strength of humanity that we have become so attached to this lonely whale. We relate to him, we believe we understand him, even though the 52-Hertz Whale will never truly be understood.”

Your Thoughts

  1. So much research indicates that whales (as well as dolphins) have evolved the same levels of intelligence and emotion as human beings. Do you think that the case of the 52-Hertz Whale goes beyond anthropomorphism – and that we are falsely attributing “loneliness” to his state of being? Do you think he is genuinely perceptually aware of his hopeless situation and truly experiencing the mental agony of his unending separation, much as any of us would feel it?
  2. What was your first reaction or feeling to finding out about the one-of-a-kind whale doomed to forever traverse the ocean each year, singing a love song that will never be answered?
  3. Why do you think people so often respond with more sympathy to the plight of animals than they do that of other humans?
  4. What is the message from this story that is resonating so deeply with people around the world?

Each year he makes his migration south from the Aleutian Islands to a breeding area in the Pacific Ocean parallel to Central California, looking for a mate. Unlike other blue and fin whales, his more than 6000 miles a year round-trip swim is a solitary one. He does not travel along with the blues or the fins, because he is neither. 

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AnonymousLlama428 Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
those were the times
Rhubarb-Pizza Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2017
Poor baby.😭
SkyroreDraws Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2015  Student Digital Artist
As much as it is fun to romanticize a story saying that this whale cries for love, or saying how it longs for company, gaining it's nickname "The Lonely Whale",  it is more likely that this is a case of a whale with a birth defect, making it mentally deficient, giving off sounds that other whales do not understand- Whale gibberish, if you will. People tend to give human personalities to animals, objects or other things like that, to make us able to identify with it. It is still a very compelling mystery, my only concern is that there will be so much focus on this whale's "Emotional state", A.K.A, what the people will imprint upon it. Or- romanticize it to such a degree that it's biology is never addressed. I would wish to know if it is truly a hybrid, or a whale with a mentally altered state, or perhaps even a brand new species of whale. Whatever it may be- I look forward to the coming documentary. And I do hope they can find this mysterious creature. Or at least the source of the sound.
StarfallenWolf Featured By Owner May 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
<3 the poor baby :C
MLFGaming Featured By Owner May 21, 2015   Artist
I am fascinated by these wonderful art works and whales are actually my #1 favorite animal very interesting and inspiring! :D
DarkRiderDLMC Featured By Owner May 8, 2015
Featured in my weekly surprise box.  Thanks for the time you put into this.
Narstak Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2015  Student Interface Designer
This is very inspiring. A beautiful story I wish to know more about.
Nevuela Featured By Owner Edited Mar 18, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist…

Sorry it's just a link, but nobody should have to pay for a premium membership in order to post deviations directly in comments.
SingleSunflower95 Featured By Owner Edited Mar 16, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
The Kickstarter for the Search for 52 has been fulfilled! There's a documentary in pre-production, right now, as we speak, and the search for 52 has begun! You can read more about it on and let him know that we are listening!!!
shittybrokenshit Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015
I, too, am lonely. I feel for him.
Je suis 52.
umbatman Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2015  Professional General Artist
just amazing and this journal again opened my eyes to how magnificent the world is and that we must respect, protect and love all animals. this is their world too
carlox220 Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Hermoso, me encanta. Muy bueno!
RebellingLemming Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1.1.1 Yes
1.1.2 Probably 50/50
1.2 Yes
2. Emphathy
3. Animals has less block than men. And he already lives in his complete nature. maybe he finds courageously ways to live more than men do.
4. T.T Don't know how to help him. Just raise awareness that men should not polute nature.
kasuyagi Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015
i heard the story before too
hope that here is another 52 Hertz whale out there
Thanatosstorm Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015
Insofar as they are aware, there is not. Only the one. They only know that it communicates on a 52-hertz frequency, and they have tracked it off the North Pacific down the coastline, but have never discovered it. With the recent success of the Kickstarter, there is yet hope that the team will find 52, and also help understand what it is (male or female, hybrid, fin, or humpback whale), and what has caused this interesting turn in its life to have it born in such a way that it constantly sings, but has no song to be returned.
WetMouth Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Hobbyist
this entire article, as well as works touched me deeply... ;o
OliverKis Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Its very nice!:) (Smile) 
ewm Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Congrats adriangrenier on hitting your goal for the Lonely Whale! I wish you all the best with your project :highfive:
UmiXMiyasa Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015
Lovely title :)
sgranatell Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Student Artist
I love LOVE...good luck 52!
Elsannafanforever123 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This so powerful that makes me cry.

El mensaje, aunque bien no pude entenderlo mucho (Por la barrera de lenguaje que me falta eliminar, osea, que tengo que aprender más Inglés), la verdad con simplemente ver los trabajos y lo demás que planificaron o les salió o lo hicieron por la causa, me causó tanto. Más porque estaba leyendo sobre el varamiento de ballenas y viendo noticias al respecto que tengo muchas teorías y cosas que otras personas, expertas en el tema, dieron sus opiniones...y no puedo evitar más que sentir tristeza y amor por esa especie... 
Uber-Stooge Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015
Good, he is better off without it
Now to everyone. The Kickstarter is funded. Congratulations to the team, and much thanks to the 3,000+ Backers who assisted. God bless, let's hope the team's journey ends in finding 52. Peace and grace to all those who also commented and shared, and to you tech, for offering this gallery of images.
DragonMPhantom Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015  Student Filmographer
:heart: rvmp :heart: rvmp  I hope they do well :)
Thanatosstorm Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015
As do I.  Happy cry (Tears of joy) 
rosepetal179 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015
poor lonely whale....
Thanatosstorm Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015
The KS funded. Hopefully 52 can be found.
rosepetal179 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015
I hope so too.. I will pray for the whales.
GantzAistar Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015  Professional Filmographer
That story always gets me. :( Would be cool if someone could build some kind of machine that turns those sounds into sounds that the other whales can hear.
And as for the pollution; another problem caused by human overpopulation.
AGiLE-EaGLE1994 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so sad! D: Poor whale.. :C
I hope he does find love some day. c':
hannahelizabethh Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Student General Artist
Cool topic! :)
ThomasLConger Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Professional General Artist
Maybe he has crabs and no other whales want anything to do with him for sleeping around.  Lol.
BigTPotts Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. Cetaceans are some of the most intelligent creatures on Earth and we have questioned how clever they are, even compared to great apes such as chimps, orangutans and gorillas. These animals are also sociable and live in pods, where they frequently communicate with other animals. Separation for a whale may be worse than separation for a human. Whether or not whales are sentient enough to feel loneliness to an extent that humans do we don't know and may not ever know, but I can imagine it being in some form of distress or negative emotional state.
2. It makes me empathize with the whale, although we don't know how lonely it can feel I want it to find a pod where it can communicate and won't face silence and danger. It actually makes me sad thinking about it, because it is thought that a main drive for animals is reproduction- something that it likely won't do. I do, on the other hand, think it could make a really good story or poem.
3. I think it is because animals are perceived to be helpless and innocent. When personified, we see them as peaceful Also, the sound of an animal in pain is heartbreaking, and though they can't communicate with us to a great extent, the emotion is there.
4.In a sad way I see it as a beautiful metaphor for not fitting in, loneliness, not being able to express oneself etc. It is a special kind of somber, melancholy story and in a way it seem painfully beautiful.
hawaii42612 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
1. Yes. Dolphins and whales are pack or "pod" creatures like many mammals including ourselves. At the least he must be aware of his lack of pod.
2. I want to sing with him.
3. I have seen instances of this, but never done so. I think it's because they feel animals are helpless/harmless whereas humans arent.
4. Loneliness. Singing but nobody hears you. Everyone can relate
sozo-teki Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Student Digital Artist
It is sad for this whale. In a way some of us can relate to him. In a way people say that they are fine to be alone, however its kinda of depressing to just be by yourself forever, in a way he searches for that one person who can connect with him, in a way how we are trying to find not just a one night stand,  but someone who will enjoy those days together with each others company.
moistfob Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Professional Artist
is that a dolphin?
jianjireh Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Student Digital Artist
I  don't know how this got into my inbox but when started reading it, THERE ARE SO MUCH FEELS FLOWING INTO ME Q n Q
CrashBandicoot2015 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015   Filmographer
WIZBA Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Thanatosstorm Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015
It will only happen if the Kickstarter is fully funded.
WIZBA Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
okey man wish you the best on this project(the lonely whale's cry for love) :)
Thanatosstorm Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015
WIZBA Just a Backer. But the Kickstarter has funded. :)
thedinorocker Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2015
i am pretty sad for this lonely animal
ballerinachibi143 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2015
I really don't know how this got to my in-box, and I didn't read ALL of it, but this was pretty amazing. I have to make a poster with information about wales on it it for school, so this random, mysterious post was actually a bit more helpful than emotional to me. Thank you, friend. I will proceed to make this poster, now. Arrivedersi. :whalehuggle: 
Rhyn-Art Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2015   General Artist
What got you so involved with Whales in the beginning? what sparked your interest?
EliCarlosCake09XZ Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2015
I cant say anything,...
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