Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 24 - Whale Interpreters

Coda… Whistle…High Click…Ziphius…Burst…Trumpet…Ship Noise…Sonar…Nacchere

These may seem like random words strung together, but to a bioacoustician they are the sounds of the sea. As sounds are received on the equipment behind the ship, they are translated into spectrograms on the computer. In front of these spectrograms, sit bioacousticians who are trained to classify these lines and squiggles as particular types of vocalizations from particular animals.

Loudness: 1 – 2 – 3

Duration: 1 - 2 - 3

In addition, these trained scientists listen to some of the sounds on headphones and then select the loudness of each sound (based on what they hear or on how faint or bright the images are on the screen) and for how long these sounds last.

According to one scientist, “I like to close my eyes and listen to the sounds and imagine who or what is making them. I create a 3D picture of the underwater environment in my head.”

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