Question: What is the lowest frequency that whales can hear?

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  1. Unsure exactly how low a frequency whales can hear to, but I understand it is below our hearing range the bottom end of which is 20kHz.

    Mark is probably a better to ask on this one!


  2. I have no idea! But I can correct James – the lower limit of human hearing is about 20 Hz. The *upper* limit is about 20 kHz for young people, but it decreases as you get older. The last time I checked in a physics lab I could still hear 16 kHz, but not above that. In fact, I seem to remember that students can download ringtones for your phone at high frequencies that you can hear, but your teachers can’t! Eg:

    This web page

    suggests that blue whales can generate sounds at 10 Hz, and so it would seem logical they could hear them as well.


  3. It is hard to answer because whales are just one of the cetacean groups that use sound to communicate. The problem is we cant really keep whales & dophins in tanks to study their sounds and how they respond to sound. So the answer varies considerably depending on species and how the researchers conducted the study. One of the new lines of research is looking to try and develop sound pingers that can be used on nets to scare dolphins away – these vary in kHz but are generally around the 10 kHz.


  4. Great question and a fascinating stuff, thanks!