Some have described it as a hum. Others describe it as a beep. What we know for sure is this: it’s weird, it’s coming from the sea floor, and the Canadian military has started investigating Nunavut’s Fury and Hecla Strait because of a ping from the deep. They’re still stumped, and residents are clamoring for answers as the sound seems to be impacting local wildlife.
“That passage is a migratory route for bowhead whales, and also bearded seals and ringed seals. There would be so many in that particular area,” George Qulaut, a member of the Nunavut legislative assembly, said in a report published Wednesday. “This summer there was none.”
Some are blaming the noise on local mining activity, with Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation cited as a culprit. But the company claims it has no equipment in the water, and no permits have been issued for work that could cause such a noise. Others suspect Greenpeace may be creating the noise to disrupt local hunting, but the charity denies this, stating they “respect the right of Inuit to hunt.” The noise can only be heard through the hull of boats, with private yacht sailors reporting hearing the noise over the summer as they passed through the strait.
“The Department of National Defence has been informed of the strange noises emanating in the Fury and Hecla Strait area, and the Canadian Armed Forces are taking the appropriate steps to actively investigate the situation,” the department said in a public statement.
While many possibilities are on the table, other incidents have led to surprising scientific discoveries. A similar mystery noise in the Pacific Ocean, scientists later realized, had links to deep sea migration.
When fish move towards the surface, they give off a noise similar to a jet engine cruising along. Why the fish make this noise is not entirely clear — they could be communicating; they could be farting.
For the locals living near the strait, they want answers now. The noise is disrupting their way of life, and while many parties are quick to deny involvement, there’s no word of any actual resolution to the issue.