Can Humans Hear Whales? [Yes, Here’s How]

Yes, humans have the capability to listen to whales. However, it may vary depending on the length and location of exposure; for instance, if one is underwater or above water.

In this article, we will explore all of these.

Can Humans Hear Whales?

Yes, humans can hear whales. While most of the whale songs span from 30 Hertz (Hz) up to 8 kiloHertz (kHz), and our hearing range starts from 20 Hertz (Hz) to 20 kiloHertz (kHz). So scientifically, it’s absolutely possible we can hear Whale songs.

However, our capacity to hear a whale’s song mostly depends on the length and location. We can hear a whale’s call better if we are underwater than above water. Despite whales emitting low-frequency vocalizations underwater, these sounds are rarely heard from above the surface due to their minimal audible volume.

Moreover, certain species of whales emit sounds in different ways; baleen whales produce continuous streams while clicking dolphins produce short bursts.


Additionally, humpbacks are known to have unique songs that vary by location and change slightly over time, making it easier for scientists to distinguish one population of humpback whales from another.

In addition, studies have found that the loudest sound humans can hear, is called the ‘threshold of pain,’ which is around 130 decibels (dB).

In contrast, whales can reach levels as high as 188 dB, with some species emitting low-frequency sounds that travel thousands of kilometers across oceans without losing any energy. This means that although we can hear them in certain situations, whales might be capable of hearing each other from further away than we humans can hear.

Can Humans Hear Whale Songs Underwater?

Yes, humans can hear whale songs underwater. Due to the unique properties of sound in water, sound waves travel much farther and faster than they do in the air. This means that scuba divers can often hear whales singing from miles away as the songs carry through the water with incredible clarity.

In addition, hearing whale songs underwater can be a much more immersive experience than when listening to them on land. This is because when hearing underwater, the sound waves travel directly to both ears simultaneously, creating a more vivid auditory experience.

The frequency of whale songs discussed above also plays a crucial role in their transmission underwater. Unlike other animals whose calls are mainly heard within close distances, whales sing in deep, which makes it easier for them to be heard from far distances.

It’s thought that this allows whales to communicate over vast distances in order to locate each other or stay connected with their pods while traveling across oceans.

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A human’s ability to hear these sounds depends largely on the type of whale singing and its distance from the listener. Beluga whales are known for having some of the highest frequencies that humans can detect underwater, while humpbacks have some of the lowest tones audible by humans diving at depths up to 200 meters (656 feet).

Humans also need special equipment like hydrophones or specialized masks and earpieces if they want to amplify or filter out certain frequencies during their dives.

The combination of frequency and distance often determines whether a diver will be able to actually hear the whale song or simply get hints of its presence through vibrations sensed in their bodies and environment.

Can You Hear Whale Sounds Above Water?

Whale sounds can be heard above water, although the sounds may not be as audible and clear compared to when they are underwater. Whales use various types of vocalizations to communicate and socialize, such as clicking, whistling, singing, and pulsing.

Unfortunately, very low frequencies like those emitted by whales (30-40 Hertz) are hard to detect above the water because they become distorted if traveling through water.

These sounds are capable of traveling through water for distances up to hundreds of kilometers, depending on the species. Humpback whales, in particular, are known for their complex songs, which can last for hours and change from year to year.


Additionally, some higher-frequency sounds can travel more easily through the air than through water and therefore have a greater chance of being heard by people above the surface.

Furthermore, sound waves reflect off surfaces, so some sound waves produced underwater can reach the surface and become audible above the water’s surface.

How Loud Are Whales Above Water?

Whales are typically much quieter in the air than beneath the ocean’s surface. On average, a whale can reach up to approximately 130 decibels when calling above water, which is still louder than a rock concert or a bullhorn. However, it’s worth noting that this sound likely won’t travel very far and won’t be detectable by humans beyond a few miles away.

The loudest whale calls ever recorded have come from the sperm whale, with some reaching up to 230 decibels, and the second is the blue whales, with sound up to 188 decibels – comparable to the volume of a jet plane taking off nearby. To put things into perspective, studies show that any sustained exposure over 140 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss in humans.

That being said, whales typically make their loudest vocalizations while they’re deep underwater due to the dense medium of water amplifying vibrations compared to air.

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In addition to blue whales, other species, such as fin and humpback whales, also produce incredibly loud vocals while submerged.

It’s believed that these vocalizations may be used for navigation and communication purposes with other whales in the area. In fact, some humpback songs have been so powerful that they’ve been documented traveling across entire oceans!

Ultimately, while whales are known for their incredible vocalizations deep underneath the sea – producing some of the loudest sounds on earth – their calls tend to be much quieter when heard above water.

That being said, even at lower volumes, these noises can still travel significant distances – making them an incredible spectacle for scientists and whale watchers alike!

How Far Away Can Humans Hear Whales?

Humans can hear blue whale sounds from a significant distance away; in ideal conditions, the sound of a blue whale can travel up to 500 miles (800 kilometers). This is due to the fact that blue whales are exceptionally loud; their calls reach up to 188 decibels.

Although water absorbs sound more easily than air, and noise pollution in the ocean can interfere with hearing whales, it is still possible for humans to detect the low-frequency vocalizations of these magnificent creatures. To do so, specialized hydrophones and other audio recording devices must be used.

Additionally, scientific research has shown that blue whales have evolved to communicate over much greater distances than other marine mammals. This means that even under less-than-perfect conditions, it is still possible for humans to hear blue whales from hundreds of miles away.

Can Whale Sound Hurt Your Ears?

Yes, whale sounds can hurt your ears. This is because whales make sound at a much higher pressure and frequency than humans, which is why their vocalizations can reach over 500 decibels (dB). That’s far louder than the human threshold for pain, which is only around 130 dB.


To put this into perspective, human-made noises like a jet engine or a rock concert typically fall between 120 and 130 dB. Meanwhile, the loudest known whale song recorded reached up to 230 decibels.

To put it another way, when whales produce sounds on the higher end of the frequency spectrum between 2000-8000 Hertz, these noises can cause severe damage to a human’s hearing.

Not only are these sounds incredibly loud, but whales are also able to control how they emit them. They are able to produce various infrasonic and ultrasonic frequencies that can travel many miles underwater. This means that even if you’re not close enough to hear the sound directly, it could still affect your hearing depending on its intensity and duration.

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Whales use these powerful sounds to communicate with each other and navigate through their environment by bouncing off nearby objects in the water, such as coral reefs or schools of fish. This makes them invaluable tools used by researchers to study whale behavior in their natural habitats and opens up new avenues of research into their behavior.

Unfortunately, however, these powerful sounds have the potential to become increasingly harmful due to human activities such as military sonar testing and drilling platforms that generate high-intensity noise pollution in the ocean.

These activities often disrupt the communication patterns of whales and interfere with their navigation systems, leading to injury or even death in some cases.

Thus, we humans must recognize how our activities may affect marine life adversely so we can strive to craft more environmentally responsible solutions for both us and aquatic species.

Which Whale Is the Loudest?

According to BBC, the mighty sperm whale registers at a stunning 230 decibels, whereas the blue whale maxes out at only 188 dB. This makes it clear that when it comes to sheer volume, no other sea creature can touch this majestic mammal.

The sperm Whale has now earned the reputation of being most certainly the loudest whale in existence. Their low-pitched, long-distance vocalizations reach up to an unprecedented 230 decibels – a sound so deafening that it could be described as ‘the bugle of the sea.’ This prodigious level of noise places them firmly at the top among their peers as they reign supremely over all other whales on planet earth.

These impressive calls are believed to be used for mating purposes and can also be heard thousands of kilometers away, allowing Blue Whales across vast distances to communicate with each other. With their ability to make such powerful sounds, it comes as no surprise that they are the world’s loudest animal species!


Hopefully, now you are clear that, as a human, you are capable of hearing whales’ sounds. Some species of whales make incredibly loud sounds, such as the Blue Whale, which can reach up to 230 decibels.

Not only are these sounds utilized for communication and navigation, but human activities such as military sonar testing and drilling platforms can interfere with the whale’s sound patterns. If this occurs to an extreme, it could lead to injury or death of marine life. We must recognize our impact on aquatic species so that we can create more responsible solutions for both them and us.

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