Bermudian’s landmark whale recording featured on 60 Minutes
A landmark recording of humpback whales singing in Bermuda's waters not only sparked a story on a US news programme, but revealed an unusual link between the Island, the show's producer and a whale researcher in the South Pacific.
Dan Ruetenik, a producer for ‘60 Minutes', was surprised to discover that his grandfather, Bermudian Frank Watlington, inspired not only his story but a researcher to be the subject of his story.
According to a recent segment of the online video show ‘60 Minutes Overtime', Mr Ruetenik last summer began calling whale researchers including Nan Hauser, who is working on the island of Rarotonga in the South Pacific.
Mr Ruetenik told her that the story was inspired by his grandfather, who was the first person to record whale songs in the 1950s.
Dr Hauser said she immediately responded: “What? Wait a minute, are you talking about Frank Watlington? Frank Watlington is the reason I do what I do.”
Mr Watlington, a Bermudian, was working with the US Navy in the 1950s to develop underwater microphones intended to locate Russian submarines.
On one occasion, he happened to record sounds he could not identify. He played the recording to some fisherman, who identified the sounds as whales singing.
Mr Watlington played the recording of a single whale singing to everyone he could — including a young Dr Hauser who spent her summers on the Island.
“I used to close my eyes and listen to it, and just think, ‘Oh my gosh, I just want to study underwater behaviour of whales and record whale song',” Dr Hauser said.
The recording, ‘Solo Whale', was later included in a record of whale songs, and was added as an insert in National Geographic Magazine.