Imagine walking around your neighborhood in a dense fog as night settles in; you may be familiar with the layout, but everything seems different. Innocuous obstacles like low-hanging tree branches and broken sidewalks become invisible right until you stumble upon them. You must be extra vigilant in order to avoid blindly injuring yourself as visibility drops.
For many humans, sight is our most valuable sense, but for marine mammals like dolphins, whales, and seals, their hearing is most precious. As sound travels better through water than air, the ocean is already a noisy place with atmospheric activity and other animals passing around, but their senses have had millions of years to evolve in such an environment. Unfortunately, because of an increased human presence in the ocean, like a fog bank rolling in, the ocean is getting noisier and putting these already threatened animals in danger.
Samara ready to deploy a hydrophone in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.
Samara Haver, a Masters student of Holger Klinck in Wildlife Science is interested in knowing about how the noise is affecting marine life. To do this, she must first characterize the ocean soundscape with hydrophones (pictured right) situated in various parts of the globe. With these data, she hopes to understand how loud the ocean is, how much noisier it’s getting, and where the noise is coming from. Tune in on Sunday, February 28th at 7PM PST on 88.7 FM in Corvallis or stream us online at http://kbvr.com/listen to hear Samara’s journey into the sounds of science.
Our guest tomorrow night, Selene Fregosi PhD student in Fisheries and Wildlife, investigates noises produced by marine mammals and in particular, whales. Selene employs an under water microphone to record the bioacoustics produced by marine mammals over large spatial and temporal scales. Attached to remote controlled marine gliders, these microphones can record bioacoustics of marine mammals, some of which produce sounds of inaudible frequencies. Marine gliders limit the time and expense of whale monitoring from the deck of a marine vessel. This cost effective alternative allows Selene to collect oceanographic measurements like temperature and salinity and her audio recordings remotely through satellite transmitted programing. Selene’s explorations through her project will provide information about the effectiveness of this technology for future research with marine mammals.
Selene getting the glider ready with the help of Alex Turpin.
In addition to the practical aspects of this research, Selene is interested in how noise pollution from ships, submarines, and other vessels affects the behavior of charismatic mega fauna. By examining the sound spectra of an audio recording, Selene can identify each species by their characteristic sound patterns. After deciphering bioacoustics obtained from the microphoned-gliders, Selene can understand whale behavior during different times of year or different locations around the world. In fact, some of Selene’s recordings are the first ever to record whale behavior and movement off the coast of Guam!
Characteristic sound pattern of a beaked whale.
Selene hopes that in the future, her work will aid the conservation of whales and other marine mammals. Deciphering bioacoustics can allow for the identification of when and where specific species are breeding, and conservationists can then work to reduce noise pollution. As our oceans become noisier from human activities, Selene’s research could provide accurate and specific information to limit disruption of crucial population maintenance and growth.
Learn more about Selene’s and other interesting research from the Klinck lab at OSU by visiting their blog.
Join us Sunday, November 22 at 7 pm to hear more about Selene’s research and her unique journey to graduate school. Tune in to KBVR Corvallis 88.7 FM or stream the show live!