While bioacousticians have been studying human and animal sound perception for decades, and in some cases hundreds of years, it has only been recently that study become much more urgent − as the advance of human noise has interfered with marine life. For example: While it is incredibly informative (and useful) to know how dolphins use bio-sonar, understanding their vulnerability to sound is critical now that humans (informed by dolphin biosonar) are now cluttering the dolphin’s communication channels with our own sonars.
The same could be conferred to other perceptual and processing systems: signal masking, amplitude induced threshold shifts, pitch discrimination, time-domain resolution, voluntary-to-autonomic nervous system stimulus thresholds, and synergistic impacts – are all becoming more than just academic discussions as marine acoustic channels are being colonized by the noise of human enterprise.
We are focusing on an array of projects that endeavor to advance our understanding about how animals perceive and use sound, and use that understanding to inform the public, policymakers, and stakeholders so that we may all become better stewards of the sea.
Don’tBeABuckethead.org is a joint education and outreach project with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) focusing on the acoustical impacts of fossil fuel exploration and production in the arctic. Learn More»
In order to have a clear understanding of any inquiry there needs to be a concise set of standard descriptors used. “Metrics” refers to the numerical/quantitative terms used to describe physical phenomena.
In human architectural settings we have devised a way of describing the desired acoustical criteria for the purpose of a given room, providing design and use guidelines. These guidelines are crafted around the perceptual priorities of one species – humans. Ocean Noise Criteria need to include the perceptual priorities of many species – a complicated task. Learn More»
The first task of crafting criteria is to understand perceptual thresholds; what amplitude, or frequency, or acceleration, or time disparity will stimulate a nervous system response in animals. Learn More»
Most threshold testing is done using convenient, easy to quantify signals. But signals found in actual settings are rarely so easy to describe. Kurtosis is a statistical descriptor for signal variability which can simplify the description of complex signals. Learn More»
There has been an assumption that the ocean has always been quiet until the mechanization of human enterprise. But prior to industrialized fishing and whaling the ocean was saturated with biological noise that may have been much louder that todays mechanized ocean. Learn More»
New technologies in offshore petroleum extraction are moving processing equipment down to the seafloor. This is introducing new and yet to be quantified noise sources where they are unseen – and unmonitored by any regulatory frameworks. Learn More»
The ocean acoustic environment is complex and detailed, and because sound transmits so much better in water than in air, the range of biological adaptations are likely much more vast than what we find in terrestrial environments.
The sounds of animals, geo-physical events, and human enterprises orchestrate vast soundscapes throughout the sea.Learn More»
While listening to a single sound or a single bio-acoustic habitat can be thrilling, expanding the listening field into a context can be truly informative. We are developing two short narrative compositions in the form of Acoustic Journeys which will transport listeners across imaginary space and time, allowing them to understand some of the acoustic interactions of the sea.
An acoustical narrative journey from the Antarctic to the Arctic traversing stunning bioacoustic habitats, mechanized industrial soundfields, grinding ice fields, and screaming military operations. Learn More»
Arctic Soundscapes is an interactive outdoor kiosk exploration of the amazing sounds in the Arctic, from the cosmic sounding vocalizations of beluga whales, ring and bearded seals, and bowhead whales, to the eerie and wincing noises if shifting sheet ice, and the incessant explosions of seismic airgun surveys prospecting for fossil fuels. Learn More»
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) were once only found in the privileged domain of universities and government agencies. With the introduction of “Google Earth” and “Google Ocean” now everyone can be a geographer. Learn More»
Because whale sharks eat gametes of breeding fish they can be found where gamete-dispersal fish are breeding. This program looks into locating whale shark feeding aggregations based on passive acoustic monitoring of breeding choruses of snappers. If breeding chorusing is a robust predictor of whale shark aggregations this data could be used to direct shipping traffic away from the whale sharks – decreasing the probability of ship strikes.Learn More»