Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Earlier this week I wrote about sea monsters and how science was kind of destroying the romance of the whole phenomena when it went around proving that sea serpent like creatures such as the oarfish were real. In the end I admitted that if they ever proved the existence of the Great and Dreadful Cuthlhu (1) I would be a pretty sad boy. This got me thinking about something bizarre I had heard about as a child, the bloop.
The bloop is a hypothetical creature that emits a strange unexplained sound that was picked up by navy listening devices that were created to locate Russian submarines.(2) In the wonderful world of onomatopoeia, the bloop makes a sound that sounds like well the word bloop, if it took you sixteen seconds for you to say it. After it became apparent they weren’t being made by red subs, the audio files were declassified and were labeled as an unidentified sea creature. Thanks to the mysteriousness and vastness of Pacific Ocean some oceanographer could say it was unknown life form and not put his academic credentials at risk
Most of what I can find on the web references the bloop as being a 1990’s phenomena though I am sure that I first came across it in the late seventies watching a film in one of my elementary school classes. But then when it comes to the weird I have always been ahead of the curve.
Several online experts have noted how close the listening devices off the Chilean cost are in position to Lovecraft’s mythical sunken city of R’lyeh.(3) In reality the location is about nine hundred and fifty miles off form where Lovecraft said the city aquatic city of sea creatures and drowned gods was supposed to lie. Still it would be hard for any fan of the Mythos not to draw a connection between the two.
The mythos connection doesn’t end with mere geography. In fact one website dedicated to the big bloop, had someone contact it explaining that when he ‘did something’ to the audio track of the bloop recording he was able to make out mysterious messages, “claps, clicks even weird chirps, some sounds even have definition of letters not even in our vocabulary !!!.” (4) I would love to tell you what that something was that he did to the audio file was but when I read how he claimed to have detected the secret sounds, it read like the techno-babble from Stark Trek and my eyes began to glaze over. Honestly I consider this just a tongue in cheek joke because first off this is a Cuthlhu themed website and secondly, the poster used the name Robert Blake, who is the protagonist in Lovecraft’s Haunter in the Dark. (5) (Did you really think I wouldn’t catch that one dear Robert, did you?)
Still undaunted by this I continued my internet research using the unimpeachable source of scientific and the paranormal information, the Urban Dictionary.Com(6) Where I found under the many definitions for bloop, including some strange new way of touching a woman’s breast and some kind of drug experience that made about as much sense to me as the technical notes on how to manipulate the bloop wave file, I eventually unearthed a post that claimed that if the bloop sound was played to a cat it would go stark raving mad.
Throwing all scientific dignity and concerned about animal welfare aside, I headed into the kitchen and immediately explained “I am not saying that I am about to perform a scientific experiment that will drive the cats insane…But if I was where are they?” Fortunately I live in a house where that kind of behavior isn’t considered strange.
Tracking down an overweight gray feline names Brave Heart, I began playing the dreaded sound of the Bloop to the cat. This triggered not the expected reaction of the cat turning back flips and screaming in horror, but instead a bored look of consternation because I had disturbed him from his nap.
With a blasé reaction from my test subject I pretty much concluded that the bloop probably is the mundane noise made by melting icecaps. Which is probably good at both keeping the oceans mysterious and the sanity for local household cats.
(1) In case you know me but don’t know what Cuthlhu is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu
(5) The Call of Cthulhu and other Weird Stories Lovecraft, H.P. ed Joshi, S.T., Penguin Books, NY, NY.