In 1989, scientists recorded a whale singing at 52 hertz—the average is 20Hz—and deduced that the whale was alone (no other whale was responding at that frequency) and was either the last or the first of his kind. Dubbed 52, the tale of the lonely whale caught fire 15 years later and grabbed the attention of filmmaker Joshua Zeman. Zeman tasked himself to find 52 and see if he truly was alone. The scientists scoffed. Trying to find one specific whale in the Pacific Ocean is the proverbial needle in a haystack. Zeman was not deterred.
You don’t have to strain to see parallels between Captain Ahab hunting for his white whale and Zeman searching for 52, but that’s kind of the point. The relationship between humans and whales is unique and messy, and exploring that history is what makes The Loneliest Whale sing. Now streaming on Hulu.