Rumblings from Underwater Giants

Dan O'Connor of Papaikou, Hawaii, plays recordings he made of underwater volcanoes and visiting whales.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And we think we have the perfect sound clip to follow John's story. We have a lot of them on file. And today's submission comes from a man who recorded a startling combination of two sounds.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

Mr. DAN O'CONNOR (Engineer): My name is Dan O' Connor. I live in Papaikou, Hawaii. I am an engineer. I work with a variety of undersea gizmos, if you will. And I was working with a group of geologists that wanted to build an undersea observatory for geology on the summit of an active volcano. It's about a kilometer deep. And they were able to put down a large box on the summit of this volcano and have a fiber optic cable to shore. They just wanted to listen to the activity of the summit.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

Mr. O'CONNOR: So that was the idea, just to listen.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

Mr. O'CONNOR: And in the wintertime in Hawaii, the humpback whales swim down from Alaska. And so they happen to be in the area in January and February. And just by coincidence, they were close enough to this microphone that we could hear loud and clear.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

Mr. O'CONNOR: There's kind of this mixture of sound like from the volcano and the whales that are just fascinating.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

Mr. O'CONNOR: And to me, it's especially beautiful because, you know, every culture has a creation myth and this is kind of the creation reality, if you will.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

Mr. O'CONNOR: It's almost kind of like jazz for me. I'd listen to these whales singing and they're just beautiful.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

Mr. O'CONNOR: There's lots of mystery with this sound. It's just not known how many whales, if they're male or female, why they are attracted or not. Someone said, oh, I think they're warming up on the hot water from the volcano. I don't think that's true. But I do have an interesting idea that, you know, people don't know how these whales navigate from Alaska. But here's the sound source in the middle of the ocean. And, hello, you just kind of listen for Hawaii and swim that way.

(Soundbite of underwater volcano rumbling and whale song)

SIEGLE: Dan O'Connor of Papaikou, Hawaii, and recordings he made of underwater volcanoes and visiting whales. It's part of our series, Soundclips. And to find out how you can take part, go to npr.org and search for sound clips. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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