Sunday, February 8, 2015

Four recorders retrieved, four more to go - next time, in March

After a week in Maui it is time to head back to Boston. Somewhat annoyingly, just as the weather has started to improve in Hawaii it has deteriorating considerably on the east coast. Such is winter weather.

Despite the very poor forecast and relatively poor reality of Maui's weather this past week, some good work was possible. Recorders at four reefs were recovered, representing around half of all of the data that we hope to collect. Additionally, recorders at three reefs were redeployed, which will allow us to gain insights into acoustic variability on reefs on the timescales of months to potentially a year.

My biggest disappointment this week was that we were not ultimately able to use a stand up paddleboard to retrieve one of our recorders. Perhaps we will be luckier next time - indeed, much remains to be done. Fortunately, we will be returning to Maui in March to complete this work and carry out some additional experiments on acoustic propagation, or how far the reef sound travels away from the reef. That is an important feature of reef sound, because while many larval animals may use sound to locate and orient to reefs, the distances over which this may occur are relatively unknown.

Max Kaplan

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Back to Maui: instrument recovery, take one

After spending just over four months in the water, the time has come for our acoustic recorders to be brought to the surface, refurbished, and redeployed to record more of Maui's reef sounds. At least, that is what should be happening this week. Unfortunately, February weather does not seem to agree - the forecast is for rain and high winds. After productive work on the water yesterday and this morning, by noon today the wind and waves had picked up so much that we had no choice but to abandon our remaining objectives and return to port. The outlook for the rest of the week is bad, so further instrument recovery is seeming increasingly unlikely.

Marc Lammers and me refurbishing an EAR (ecological acoustic recorder). This photo was taken by Darla White who generously volunteered on Sunday to help us take advantage of our narrow weather window.
However, despite that disappointing prognosis, there are at least two reasons to be optimistic about the future. First, no recorders have been lost, at least from the three reefs we've visited so far. Second, two of the three recorders from those reefs appear to have functioned perfectly, which is a very pleasant surprise. The third one - unclear what the issue is but it seems unwilling to indicate whether it recorded and if it did, how many files were produced. The good news is that every reef was outfitted with two recorders so even if this one failed, there is a backup.

Fouled instrument after four months on the reef (Photo: M. Kaplan)
While boating seems almost certainly out of the question for the rest of the week, if the winds let up on Thursday it will be possible to retrieve and redeploy one more recorder by heading out from shore in scuba equipment with the assistance of a stand up paddle board. Fingers crossed.

Max Kaplan

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cephalopods use sound!

Happy New Year!  With the New Year comes new data!  Check out our new paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology. It shows the cuttlefish behaviorally respond to sound. The do so to varying degrees depending on the sound level and frequency, and also habituate to sound. Both of these suggest a loudness perception to sound and noise. The paper is led by Julia Samson (now at UNC) and was the foundation of her Masters work. Way to go Julia! If you want the pdf or more information, contact Aran at amooney'at' or see our lab website.We've also been featured on a number of news outlets including AAAS's Eureka Alert!

Our paper's link to the JEB website