More interesting but inaccurate reporting from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13958630
The article is very interesting, but I have a slight problem with the terminology used. The decibel scale is useless unless the necessary reference level is also quoted. I assume that in this case they mean dB(SPL) but even this comes with problems. The reference level of dB(SPL) in air is 20 uPa, but in liquid is only 1 uPa. This article, although discussing both measurements in air and water, doesn’t mention this problem of reference level, which leaves the use of the dB levels in the report pointless.
I found the journal article that this article is taken from, and it says that the sound level measured was 78.9 SPL rms re 20uPa. So thats that cleared up. But they still say that blue whales can produce 188dB and I assume that this is re 1uPa.
Full marks for sensational journalism, poor marks for accuracy. Oh dear.