Mystery of the Walrus’ Voice

Heres a program from our archives.ambience, walrus The sounds we’re listening to were being produced by walruses, recorded under the ice at the Canadian Arctic. But how the walrus makes these sounds is unknown. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Sjare: How walruses actually produce these very strange sounding knocks, taps and bell-like ringing sounds is still pretty much a mystery.Becky Sjare is with the Canadian Wildlife Service.Sjare: Walruses are known to clack their teeth when they’re hauled out on land or on an ice pan. And so it was thought that the tapping and knocking sound could be produced by the clattering of the teeth. But looking at the wear pattern on the teeth of hunter kills, indicates that the type of pattern that we see is not consistent with what you would expect if the teeth were the main source of the sound. Right not we have no other solid idea of how the knocks and taps are produced, but if I had to speculate, I would suggest that the walrus’s ability to create a very strong vacuum and suction power, may have something to do with their sound production. I’m wondering if the walruses are clicking their tongue against the roof of their mouth, similar to the way a human can make a clucking sound with their tongue, like — (demonstrates).To give you an idea of how formidable the suction power of a walrus is, it can literally suck the fleshy part of a clam right out of its shell, like a huge vacuum cleaner.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Mystery of the Walrus' Voice

Clacking teeth, clicking tongue?
Air Date:11/28/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

Heres a program from our archives.ambience, walrus The sounds we're listening to were being produced by walruses, recorded under the ice at the Canadian Arctic. But how the walrus makes these sounds is unknown. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Sjare: How walruses actually produce these very strange sounding knocks, taps and bell-like ringing sounds is still pretty much a mystery.Becky Sjare is with the Canadian Wildlife Service.Sjare: Walruses are known to clack their teeth when they're hauled out on land or on an ice pan. And so it was thought that the tapping and knocking sound could be produced by the clattering of the teeth. But looking at the wear pattern on the teeth of hunter kills, indicates that the type of pattern that we see is not consistent with what you would expect if the teeth were the main source of the sound. Right not we have no other solid idea of how the knocks and taps are produced, but if I had to speculate, I would suggest that the walrus's ability to create a very strong vacuum and suction power, may have something to do with their sound production. I'm wondering if the walruses are clicking their tongue against the roof of their mouth, similar to the way a human can make a clucking sound with their tongue, like -- (demonstrates).To give you an idea of how formidable the suction power of a walrus is, it can literally suck the fleshy part of a clam right out of its shell, like a huge vacuum cleaner.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.