All Right Whale Photo Image Credits: Brian Skerry's photographs of Right Whales and About Brian Skerry
In 1987, Clark launched his first underwater monitoring project, counting Arctic bowhead whales by listening in on the whales' haunting voices as they traveled beneath the ice and out of sight. During those first days, the crew had to monitor the recordings continuously, listening for weeks at a time from a chilly shed perched on a snowmobile.
In the 1990s, the Bioacoustics Research Program introduced autonomous recording units that could listen alone, running on batteries for months and storing what they heard on hard disk drives. Among their designs is an underwater model, known as a "pop-up," that records from the ocean bottom, its hardware and batteries protected inside a watertight glass sphere.
At the same time, software engineers at the Lab were developing groundbreaking, easy-to-use sound analysis software: first Canary, then Raven and XBAT - Extensible Acoustic Analysis (read about and download software). Now armed with self-reliant listening hardware and powerful analysis tools, automatic detection of right whale calls was a relatively short step away. What began as the tinkering of a few visionary scientists and engineers has grown to include more than 55 people working on dozens of projects around the world: in North and South America, Africa, Asia, New Zealand, and the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, and Southern oceans.
Sound Detection Map
Watch the Right Whale
Explore the Right Whale's Up-Call
Other Whales Sounds and Calls to Explore
Read about and Maps
Threats to Right Whales
Archiving Underwater Sounds
Right Whale Sighting Advisory System
Mandatory and Voluntary Measures To Reduce Risk To Right Whales
National Geographic Photos of Right Whales by Brian Skerry and Questions and Answers about Photographing Right Whales