The Bloop

Japan's namazu in ancient painting.

Japan has its own version of mystery.

Well, the mystery of mysteries; it is the “bloop”.  This sound is the name given to an ultra-low frequency underwater sound detected by NOAA several times during the summer of 1997. What created that sound is debatable as the source of this phenomenon remains unknown. And although no convincing explanation has been given, the general consensus seems to be that the origin is almost certainly biological. Could it really have been an animal? If so, the “animal” in question hasn’t been heard since the summer of 1997? Or that the US Navy had recorded them, but refuses to release any further information. But why didn’t the Navy release them? Is there something too scary to know?

In my attempt to understand, I wrote a novel on it and right on Chapter 2 of Over Mount Fuji have the following excerpts:

After placing his laptop on the table, he switched it on and pulled the antenna from its port. He put on his headphones and plugged in the wire to his computer, which he dubbed EQ-Lun. Connected to underwater hydrophones, the spectrogram danced on the screen. The sound increased in volume, signaling a phenomenon had intensified across the Pacific Ocean. It couldn’t have been linked to earthquakes, since it had been continuous even in the absence of seismic activities. He leaned forward, but another sound startled him. A babble like gurgling water, a blo-o-op replaced the hum.

During the last recording, the blo-o-op sound—indicated by the thick cluster of red pixels—was most intense about a thousand miles south of Kyushu Island. He clicked several times until a map of the Pacific appeared in the background, then he superimposed the ambience over the map. Now, after ten hours, the source of this sound had moved further south, its color changed to pink, indicating the intensity of the sound had subsided. He listened to his headset. Yes, the sound had abated. But why? Could a link with a sea creature be possible? Moving. Retreating.

My attempt is just an attempt, hence it’s through a novel rather than a textbook, but I have spent considerable time on it. Maybe it was a special guest “bloop” appearance or something. According to scientists who have studied the phenomenon it matches the audio profile of a living creature but there is no known animal that could have produced the sound. If it is from an animal, the mystery deepens as the creature would have to be several times the size of the largest known animal on Earth, the blue whale. Then our minds are stretched from some mega-fauna cryptids to cryptozoology. Giant squids. Leviathan.


And in Chapter 22, the bloop mystery continues:

Eileen startled when the laptop beeped appeared. Then a hum accompanied the beeps.

Wulfstein narrowed his eyes when the sound persisted. A sheen of sweat covered his wrinkled face.

“Listen,” she said, “the hums are more audible.”

“Yes, indeed,” he said, grabbing EQ-Lun closer. “Most of our equipment is set to detect any irregularity around the archipelago.”

“Why is it getting louder?”

Wulfstein analyzed the reports for a moment, then paced back to the window and squinted over the horizon. “The bloop sound has retreated to the Mariana Trench, but the hum is everywhere.”

Still puzzled, she prodded. “How can you be sure?”

“No one can be certain, Eileen. Something’s stirring—the hum remains a mystery, but the movement of the bloop sound indicates it’s a creature. Only this much I’m sure of.”

Eileen knew that Wulfstein’s laptop link to the laboratory tracked every sensor. Could this be a crucial time to find a breakthrough for earthquake precursors?

“A man’s imaginative power will shrink if not used,” he said. “The mysteries of Ma-no Umi will soon provide the key.”

“How did the sound move? Can you show me?”

“Give me a minute, and I’ll retrieve my database.”

After Wulfstein had reset EQ-Lun, the spectrogram danced on the screen and the familiar babbling bloop sounded. He clicked a key and the spectrogram transformed into a small red ambience radiating toward the top left corner of the screen as the map of the Pacific came into view in the background.

“This is where I started recording the sound last December,” Wulfstein said, pointing to the sea off the coast of Kyushu Island. “Now the horizontal bar shows the time changes during the last nine months I’d tracked this sound.”

Eileen studied the signal on the horizontal bar. During the first week of December, it started when the red ambience moved northward to Honshu, then it slowly circled the seas there in a Big 8 formation. By January, it began to pick up speed, moving south, but its color faded into pink. At the end of the month, the ambience reached the Mariana Trench. Moment later, it collapsed and disappeared. During the first week of March, the ambience reappeared. It moved southeast, passed the Equator toward Fiji, and headed south.

“What does this ambience mean?” Eileen asked.

“It signifies the source of the sound.”

“So it’s heading south?”

“That’s right.”

Eileen stiffened. How could the sound move with such peculiarity? Before hitting New Zealand, the ambience turned east toward the Galápagos Islands. After rounding the islands at the end of April, it headed north. By the second week of May, the sound moved along the Coast of California, but this time, staying very close to the shorelines. And just before San Francisco, it paused for a long moment. After emitting louder than normal, it turned west toward the Hawaiian Islands, and stayed there. It circled the islands anticlockwise before heading for the Japanese archipelago.


In June, as it approached the archipelago, it slowed, but the sound intensified. Just east of the Izu peninsular, it moved north, then halted.

“What does this mean?” Eileen asked, startled.

“It seems some seismic activities there had troubled the creature.”

After the long pause, the sound turned east and then headed north, following the coastline. Near the north end of Honshu, it slowed, then stopped. The ambience softened as it turned west and headed into the Strait of Tsugaru Kaikyo. But it halted again, and then retreated, as if sensing danger. Making a U-turn, it headed northeast. Again, it followed the coastline, rounding the island of Hokkaido in an anti-clockwise direction. Once it returned to the southern tip, it slowed, then stopped. After a short moment, it proceeded east, but moved at a snail’s pace. Just before the Strait of Tsugaru Kaikyo, the ambience faded, and then vanished.

Eileen watched, studying and keeping her composure.

After a long while, the ambience restarted, but on the eastern side of the Strait. Slowly the pulse regained its strength.

When it reached the open sea to the east, it picked up speed, its ambience finally returned to normal. For a brief moment, it moved well into the sea, but it hesitated, stopped, and returned to the coastline, proceeding down south along Honshu Island.

Once it reached the town of Tateyama, it slowed. And just before Oshima Island, it stopped. Then it circled the island in a clockwise formation, pausing intermittently and moving back and forth, as if examining and re-examining the seascape.

After a long hesitancy, it continued its southward bound, gaining speed, bypassing the Ryukyu Islands and returning to the Mariana Trench by the end of June. Again, the ambience faded and disappeared from view. But during the second week of July, a seismogram spurted out suddenly on the screen as the ambience reappeared with the sound intensified.

“What’s this suppose to mean?” Eileen asked.

“It means the creature was troubled by another seismic activity.”

“Instantly?” Eileen asked.

“That’s right. There must be a linkage.”

Eileen recalled Jerry’s paper was centered on his conjectures of Ma-no Umi. This mystifying section of the Pacific, a topic so baffling and raw, had always drawn media interest. So she grasped the opportunity to be more specific. “The sound is so loud at times. You mean a greater sea creature than those we saw?”


“Without a doubt. I still do not have all the specifics, as mysteries remain mysteries until we see them before our eyes.”

“And is this how science and the arts meet each other?”

“Possibly. Neither of us really believes in the monster. But surely those ancient tales aren’t total fabrication.”

Interestingly one commentator expressed it as a Leviathan in this way: “It is said that at one time there had been two alive. But God killed one so that if this had not occurred no man would be left alive. In the last days it is written that the creature, upon arrival on the coast of Israel, will be killed, and its skin large enough to cover the nation of Israel.” Sobering thought, but no one can be sure; hence I dub the Bloop as the mystery of mysteries. But then there is a stunning passage in Isaiah 27:1. “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan, the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.”

Incidentally the Japanese has a century-old legend about a namazu that lives in the sea (see picture above). All these mysteries may be connected, or they may not, but if anything, the mysteries deepen.

©) Joel Huan, author of Over Mount Fuji (available through Amazon and Barnes&Noble)

Or if you like to write to me, my email is (no space): eqlunn at

~ by Joel Huan on May 25, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Bloop”

  1. The ‘bloop’ is so mysterious that it’s on most radios. But last night program was a ABC TV program!

  2. I remember reading about the Bloop in your book, Joel. I must have been interesting to hear it mention on the radio.


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