Friday, March 25, 2016

Day 3. Lots of whales.

Well, we were back at it. After a drought yesterday (i.e., seeing whales but not finding any productive singers) we had a pretty decent day today, recording from 2 singers (our humpback singers). We found two singers pretty early on in the a.m., but both of these lone males (all singers are males) were joined (by "joiners") and while we were initially observing them. This put a quick stop to their singing patterns and our subsequent ability to work with them. After a few hours of chasing down false alarms, not finding successful animals, seeing quite a few humpback competitive pods and surveying quite a bit of the Maui-Molokai-Lanai waters, we found ourselves off Lanai and a great singer. Tammy and Aran could see it from the kayak. And Marc, Max and Anke (a new PhD student with Marc Lammers) got some great recordings from the Coho (our trusty vessel).

Marc spotting whales from the Coho. Note his headphones. We frequently deploy and listen to a hydrophone to tell how close we are to singers. 
The second whale of the day we were interrupted by a mom and calf swimming by. The calf was frequently breaching. We managed to get a few good pics of it. But this seemed to disturb our singer enough to stop singing and seemingly join this duo. But we managed to get a good amount of data. 

Calf breaching next to the mom fluking. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Great weather!

Well, two field days down. We are running a project to address the sound levels patterns of humpback whale song. And weather has been great. Light (Kona) winds. Note how calm the waters are below. We are measuring the sounds a few ways. One is directly next to the whales, sauntering over with the kayak and a WHOI DMON (digital acoustic recorder). We are also measuring how far away we can hear those sounds. So we take our main boat, the Coho, away from the whale and kayak, measuring the whale songs as we drift away. The Coho is owned and operated by Marc Lammers of University of Hawaii and Oceanwide Science Institute.

Below you can see Tammy Silva, one of the PhD students paddling in the kayak. It's a double kayak. Aran is paddling in the back of the kayak and taking the photo.
Tammy looking for whales. Pretty calm water, eh!

Tammy still looking for whales. If you look close, you can see a whale flipper to the left of Tammy. 
Despite this great weather, we've been struggling a bit with whales. We had one singer the first day. While we've seen lots of whales today, and heard lots of singers (in the distance) we couldn't find any singers today. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Welcome to Maui

Hi folks
Max, Tammy, Aran have arrived in Maui. We are here to measure the sounds of humpback whales.
We arrived late Sunday night, and spent Monday prepping for the field work. So far, weather has been good. 'Light and variable winds' which means flat water for spotting whales.

Below is the beautiful backyard of the Lammers' where Aran is staying for the moment. It rained and poured when we came in today. Light winds shift the weather patterns here. Here, in Marc Lammers' yard it created a temporary stream. 

Tomorrow, some updates on the fieldwork. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

New Paper

- We just published a new paper on on the soundscape of local, Nantucket Sound off of Cape Cod..
We assess the dominant sound on Horseshoe Shoals, cusk eels. Cusk eels are a type of fish that make a very loud sound during its reproduction time (the summer). This family of fish is found all over the globe. The sounds are loud, near continuous, making a loud chorus that peaks at dawn and dusk and is acutally lounder at night, then they are during the day. 
 The paper was published in Aquatic Biology: cusk eel sounds on Horseshoe Shoal

Long term spectrogram of July 23, 2012. Energy sources come from cusk eels and boats (arrows). Cusk eel sounds reflect near-constant chatter during the day (noted by the bracket on the left) and evening choruses (noted), reflecting differences in energy levels during the day and night periods. Time was averaged in 5 s bins and frequency was averaged in 50 Hz bins.