Step aside binaural beats, because listening to whales go “whiieeeeeaooooooo” is the hottest new alleged concentration hack. In fact, YouTube is brimming with 10-hour-long videos of whales making their famously alien noises that promise to provide stress relief, inner peace and relaxation.
But do they deliver on that promise? Let’s dive in to find out.
Joerg, the man behind the Relax Night and Day YouTube channel, which features a handful of popular whale sounds, tells me in slightly broken English that nature was his main inspiration. “Whales are majestic animals,” he says. “They are existing years longer than humans, and we need to protect them. But there is one thing in my heart which hurts: It’s the illegal whale hunters around our beautiful planet Earth.”
Joerg hopes his whale sounds can help bring attention to this very real problem. “Unfortunately, I can’t stop the illegal whale hunters from hunting them,” he laments. “However, I am able and have the know-how to pass on the heart of the whales in the form of their individual sounds.”
But interestingly, the noises Joerg uses to make his videos don’t actually come from real whales. “I don’t know anybody who recorded whale sounds for 10 hours straight,” he explains (which, fair point). “The main thing is to create soothing whale soundscapes that sound as real as possible.” Joerg does this by taking real sounds from all over the place and editing them to resemble “whales talking to each other.”
Joerg admits that the editing process is tedious, but also enjoyable. “This is my favorite part of the whale project,” he says. “It’s like being next to the whales. I mix these sounds with the love of my heart, the light from my soul and the peace from my mind.”
Speaking of peace, Joerg obviously believes whale sounds have the capacity to help listeners relax and focus, saying, “Personally, I sleep better.” When he sleeps better, he says he becomes an overall better person. He does mention, however, that whale sounds can take some time to warm up to. “This is a normal process, as we usually don’t listen to whale sounds,” he explains. So if they don’t help you focus right away, consider giving them another chance.
The largely positive feedback Joerg receives appears to confirm that whale sounds can indeed help people in many ways. “The best thing is reading the amazing comments on these videos,” he says. “When the listener loves this type of sound, I’m able to feel love and peace in my heart. Then I did a good job.”
But the big question remains: Does listening to “whale sounds” actually optimize our performance?
Well, as you might have expected, there are no real studies on the effects of whale sounds on humans — hell, even the research behind binaural beats is questionable. We do know, however, that (real) whale sounds are impressively intricate songs, which whales purposefully come together to compose and sing. And we know that music without lyrics — which whale sounds should qualify as, for humans at least — may improve our performance when engaging in tasks that require creativity or mental gymnastics. However, the reasons behind this phenomenon remain largely unexplained and are probably complex.
So, the answer to our big question is, maybe?
As the YouTube view counters show, people certainly enjoy listening to whale sounds, and as Joerg notes, “Whales sounds are also played in hotels, spa centers, waiting rooms and cosmetic studios,” which are a testament to their potentially relaxing effects.
All of which is to say, whether we understand the science or not, if you feel like listening to whales go “whiieeeeeaooooooo” — or at least, a rough approximation of such — helps you focus, there’s no harm in plugging them into your headphones for the afternoon. And while you’re listening, as Joerg suggests, “Feel the love of the creator, and feel the energy which whales give you. It’s probably the sound which your heart seeks.”