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Yes, they do actually whistle - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
heleninwales
heleninwales
Yes, they do actually whistle
The first time I visited Porth Oer, aka Whistling Sands, I was sceptical about the whistling. It's nothing to do with the wind, which might be your first thought on hearing the name. It's the actual sand that does the whistling.

Whether the sand obliges seems to depend on certain factors, in particular whether it's wet or not. To make it whistle, it needs to be dry. If the conditions are right and you swish your feet over the surface, you will hear it whistle. Or perhaps it's better described as a squeak? However, Squeaking Sands, though probably more accurate, doesn't sound so good as Whistling Sands. :)

This time I tried taking a video so that I could record the squeaking/whistling sound.



Apologies for the quality, it's just taken with my Canon PowerShot which isn't a video camera, it just has a video option.

While I was taking videos, I also recorded the surf crashing onto the beach. You can hear the wind too. If you look carefully near the end, you will see the small black shape of a surfer heading for the beach.

[Cross-posted from Dreamwidth by way of a backup http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/49328.html. If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]

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Comments
nutmeg3 From: nutmeg3 Date: June 25th, 2012 12:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's so cool! It sounds a bit like a puppy softly yipping, but I'm not sure Yipping Sounds is any more appealing than Squeaking Sands.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 25th, 2012 12:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a pity there was so much wind, but you can definitely hear the squeaky sound. I need to make a trip to our nearest beach and do a recording there to demonstrate the sound made by normal, non-squeaking sand so people can make a proper comparison.
cariadwen From: cariadwen Date: June 25th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes I thought that :)
asakiyume From: asakiyume Date: June 25th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking it sounds like a seal barking--maybe the sand whistles to call to seals :-)
blackberry44 From: blackberry44 Date: June 25th, 2012 12:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
How odd. I will have to listen next time I go to a sandy beach to see whether sand elsewhere whistles too!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 25th, 2012 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did record walking over wet sand at the same beach (something like shhhhh-shhhhh), but I think a trip to Barmouth is called for so I can demonstrate normal sand and its non-squeakiness.

Edited at 2012-06-25 12:39 pm (UTC)
pickledginger From: pickledginger Date: June 25th, 2012 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
What fun!
Get a group together on a calm day, and you could try for a tune or two.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2012 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
A variation on tap dancing, perhaps? :)
pickledginger From: pickledginger Date: June 26th, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my. (But what might the traditional costume be, for sand-squeaking?)
sartorias From: sartorias Date: June 25th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's really nifty!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's one of those things sounds unbelievable until you try it for yourself.
asakiyume From: asakiyume Date: June 25th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very excellent--thank you for recording!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I ought to thank you. It was your videos that gave me the idea of doing it.
khiemtran From: khiemtran Date: June 25th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh! There's one of those near Melbourne too (which is actually called Squeaky Beach). Lots of fun for the kids...
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee! Squeaky Beach. I like it. Interesting that the phenomenon occurs elsewhere too.
rymrytr From: rymrytr Date: June 26th, 2012 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)

I'd be curious to test footwear. Did the "shoes" of 500 years ago, make a different sound that those of today? Considering the material of then and now...

heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2012 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know whether footwear makes a difference. (Another thing to test?) I was wondering if they'd first noticed the phenomenon when they dragged things across the beach, for example boats, ropes or fishing nets. You have to walk in an unnatural way to make it squeak when you walk across it.
rymrytr From: rymrytr Date: June 26th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Dragging things in from the water such as wet boats and big fish; dragging things to the water, such as dry boats and nets... very interesting concept. And as for the footwear, we have artificial materials, they may have worn leather or reeds or wood...

I love ancient mysteries! :o)

readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: June 26th, 2012 08:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Curious.
Squeaking may be more accurate then Whispering - & not as funny as Yipping - it still sounds more romantic!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: June 26th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Apparently there is a similar beach in Australia, but they've called theirs Squeaky Beach. :)

I did wonder whether it might whistle more convincingly if you dragged something like a rope or fishing net across it. You have to walk in an unnatural way to make it squeak when you walk across it.
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