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June 2, 2021


Jill Spradley

Follow whale migration patterns long enough and you're bound to happen upon a singular creature operating at the sonic frequency of 52-hertz. Dubbed "the world's loneliest whale," he is the only blue whale using this frequency, as most sing between 10 and 40Hz. It has been speculated that the 52Hz whale may be deaf or perhaps disabled, but no human has been close enough to know for sure. He has been detected at regular intervals since the 1980's remembering, of course, that whales live for a very long time. 

His name is Steve. 

Steve promises it isn't so bad, really. He'd like you to keep in mind that most of the ocean remains uncharted and full of possibility. (And giant squid, but we don't talk about the squid. Do you hear me? We never ever talk about the squid.) 

Whales typically migrate to cooler waters for feeding, which never made much sense to Steve. No one's really interested in opening a restaurant up north because—apart from an influx of whales—the tourists don't exactly flock to areas north of the Arctic circle. The only joints open are a couple of brewpubs and a sushi conveyer belt that seems to operate under different management every season. 

Steve always asks for a seat at the bar because it's terrible to say "table for one" and then pretend that maybe you're waiting for someone. It's what the waitstaff wants to ask over and over even though he's in there pretty regularly and really they should know better by now. 

He sits at the bar alone nursing a cold one and thinks about how one time he had a small friend whom he accidentally krilled, along with several tons of plankton and a dozen unsuspecting schools of brine shrimp. So it goes with krilling. When you sit at the bar, slack-jawed, ingesting whatever happens to fly into your gullet, well, it's just a terrible way of eating. Casualties happen. 

(I know we promised not to bring squid back into the story, but this feels like a good time to point out that they feed with an intention that they won’t shut up about, especially when they’re wedged eight arms deep into your blowhole.) 

The ocean is a big place filled with undiscovered creatures so the odds of him making a friend in the future are pretty high, he thinks. And this time he’ll go into the situation with confidence and keep the krill to a minimum. A trim figure never hurt anyone, a little less blubber, a little more muscle. It’s only a matter of time before he’s no longer the world’s loneliest whale. Why, just the other day the BBC reported that the world’s loneliest whale might not be so lonely after all!

Steve can’t read. But he still realizes the importance of hope.