Monday, April 18, 2011

Whale Friendly Bioacoustics

In 2000, the Navy of United States accepted that loud sounds of its Sonar were the reason of a mass gathering of whales in the Bahamas region in the western Atlantic Ocean. And in 2005, 37 whales beached themselves and died along the North Carolina coast after some Naval vessels used a high power sonar during exercises.
It is said that the loud sonar sound hurts the sensitive hearing of marine mammals & forces them to come to the surface very rapidly or cause a type of decompression sickness. However, this view is often disputed. Now, the Office of Naval Research has decided to start a two-three year of advance research on the effects of man made noises on the whales.
Grants are awarded to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustics Research Program (BRP) and a sum of $2 million plus is given. BRP’s research documents the effects of marine noise on ocean life and tracks species facing extinction threats like North Atlantic right whale.
This grant will help the scientists to develop intelligent underwater recorders that can classify whale sounds from background noises, identify its type, and zero in its precise location utilizing multiple microphones in the water.

The guys at BRP will join hands with engineers at the Science Applications International Corp(SAIC) to build a portable marine acoustic monitoring and recording device powered by sea waves and sun. The vessel consists of a floating platform & a submerged "glider wing" that converts the wave power into thrust which moves the platform.
Through this machine recorders will move into the desired areas of interest or follow the animal or other sounds.The Navy has a vast experience with sea mammals. For example, it has trained dolphins that search for the sea mines.

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