The title of ‘loudest species’ goes to the sperm whale, but all whales are very, very loud. So loud in fact, they dwarf even the sound levels of a jet engine!
Blue whales are capable of making resounding whistling sounds as loud as 188 db (decibels). For context, a regular human’s shout is about 60-70 db and a jet engine reaches over 120 db; the level at which sounds can be painful or damaging for a person. Sperm whales, as mentioned above, are the loudest species of all with the ability to make clicking noises at 230 db. These calls do only last for 15-30 milliseconds but they can reach for miles and miles and miles. Very impressive.
To be fair on the rest of the animal kingdom, whales do tend to be MUCH larger, dwarfing other species in literal volume not just the auditory kind. With that in mind, here are a few examples of other loud animals.
Really quick before we get into this list, a sea creature that deserves a mention is the tiger pistol shrimp. This tiny Mediterranean creature has a claw capable of firing high-speed jets of water. The high speed creates an air bubble which, upon imploding, kills all fish in a 2m radius. The sound emitted by this exceeds 200 dbs, louder than a gunshot (only about 150). The temperature at the centre of this implosion is comparable to the sun (i’m not joking) meaning a flash of light is created every time. Everything about that is completely insane and i love it.
Other loud animals
Anyway, back on track. We’ve established the loudest species but let’s look at some runner-ups.
Bats in general are an interesting case as they of course use sound to navigate via echolocation. The loudest species of bat is the bulldog bat, which reaches around 140 decibels. They are capable of locating fish within bodies of water and for this reason are often dubbed ‘fisherman bats’. The noises they produce are inaudible to humans however.
Anyone whose had the pleasure (or perhaps displeasure) to hear one will tell you cicadas are the loudest insect (with maximum volumes of around 135 decibels!). Even though it’s well known, it only felt right to mention them here.
Northern elephant seals are rather unfortunate looking animals, with amazingly complex sound systems. They can produce sounds that exceed 120 decibels, with females often making loud vocalisations in order to communicate pups. Some researchers even believe that each elephant seal has a unique voice, much like humans. Each group/rookery has it’s own dialect, so when a northern elephant seal joins a new rookery it must learn the ‘language’, so to speak. Isn’t that just miraculous?!
I think in general, it is easy to underestimate the sheer amount of creatures capable of making sounds that are damaging to human beings. From whales to shrimp all the way to insects, birds and elephant seals; there’s a whole lot of thunderous animals out there. Of course, we now know the LOUDEST species is the sperm whale. So, next time you go for a quick dive in the ocean, bring ear muffs!
Animal-Club provides animal parties or animal handling workshops. You will be able to see, learn and interact with many wonderful animals with the help of our presenters. Our mobile zoo has many friendly animals such as rabbits, tarantulas, geckos, vinegaroons and more, perfect for an animal party. We can also come over to your school for an animal school visit or arrange for an animal workshop with us where the children can learn about looking after animals and animal behaviour, and have fun too.