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Monday, July 1, 2013

Videos, Sounds and Photos of the Right Whale : Right Whale Listening Network at Bioacoustics Research Program of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology + Brian Skerry Right Whale Photographs

Watch, Listen, Map - Live Whales, as they travel: Video and Sound Archives of the Right Whale Listening Network of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, has been listening in on the natural world for more than 20 years. In that time, they've pioneered the use of acoustic technology to record and analyze wild sounds, both on land and underwater.

All Right Whale Photo Image Credits:  Brian Skerry's photographs of Right Whales and About Brian Skerry

Right whales are large, slow-moving whales that can weigh up to 70 tons.There may be as few as 345 right whales remaining, and a leading cause of death is collisions with vessels. US law requires that all large vessels (vessels 65 ft and greater) slow to speeds of 10 knots (11.5 mph) or less in Seasonal Management Areas along the US east coast where where right whales are known to occur.

Program director Christopher W. Clark hit on the idea of listening to whales--instead of looking for them--nearly four decades ago. He imagined a computer-linked network of hydrophones that could locate whales by triangulating their calls. Since then, he and his colleagues have awaited computers powerful enough to handle the immense processing task--and helped the process along by inventing their own specialized software and instrumentation.

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 Population estimates

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