What Is the Loudest Animal in the World?

loudest animal in the world
Credit: Ray Harrington

Dogs can be quite noisy barking in our homes, but several other animals can emit quadruple the sound if needed. While these animals may not all live on land, their sound carries in the ocean for many miles. If you’ve ever been curious about the loudest animal in the world, read more here.

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The Loudest Animal in the World

loudest animal in the world
Credit: Wikipedia

The loudest animal in the world happens to reside in our oceans and is the sperm whale. The sperm whale, or cachalot, migrates seasonally for feeding and breeding. While the females and young males live together in groups, the mature males only join the group during mating season, preferring instead to live solitary lives.

Mature males are around 52 feet long and can plunge into the ocean 7,380 feet, exceeded only by the southern elephant seal and Cuvier’s beaked whale. To navigate the ocean, sperm whales use echolocation and vocalization as loud as 236 decibels, earning it the title of loudest animal in the world. The sperm whale also has the largest brain on Earth, being more than five times heavier than a human’s. They can live up to 70 years or more.

How They Measure “Loudness”

Sound is measured in decibels based on its intensity. The most common instrument used to measure noise is a Noise Level Meter which consists of a microphone, internal electronic components, and a display. While the sperm whale’s measurement may “sound” high, these are real-world examples below that show just how loud they are.

  • 10 Decibels: Normal Breathing
  • 50 Decibels: Normal Rainfall/Refrigerator
  • 85 Decibels: Blender/Heavy Traffic
  • 110 Decibels: Motorcycle/Jackhammer/Power Saw
  • 145 Decibels: Fireworks

How Loud Can a Human Shout?

Normally, a human can shout between 80 and 120 decibels which is less than half of the sound a sperm whale can make. This is in the range of a vacuum cleaner (80 dB) to an ambulance siren (120 dB).

How Loud is Dangerously Loud?

Anything above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss in humans, which could even be a human scream if loud enough. This of course depends on how long you hear the noise, since the louder the noise is the less you should be listening to it. For instance, you could listen to 85 decibels for eight hours before getting hearing damage, but less than four minutes for a sound around 106 decibels.

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Why Are Sperm Whales So Loud?

Sperm whales use their clicks for a variety of reasons, but their main goal is to find food in the ocean like the giant squid. These clicks need to travel hundreds of miles if need be, so they must be strong enough to travel far in the water.

While this one call is long-range and used for food, three other clicks have been identified in the sperm whale’s repertoire. The “creaks” sound like squeaky doors and are used at close range when prey capture is imminent, “slow clicks” have something to do with mating, and “codas” are distinct patterns most often used when whales are socializing.

Other Loud Animals

pistol shrimp
Credit: Indiana Public Media

While the sperm whale takes the leading spot on our list, there are several other loud animals in the world. Some of these animals are included below:

  • Pistol Shrimp (189 decibels)
  • Blue Whale (188 decibels)
  • North Pacific Right Whale (182 decibels)
  • Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (163 decibels)

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Most animals can be loud, but a few species stand above the rest. If you happen to meet the loudest animal in the world, bring earplugs or stay far away from its mouth.

Alexandria is a News Editor, writer, and reader of all things literature. She graduated from the State University of... More about Alexandria Wyckoff

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