Marine Mammal Bioacoustics and Conservation
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This project has added safety measures to allow for responsible fielding of volunteers and field staff at this time.
Those measures include
- Proof of vaccination requirement
- Decreased overall team size to allow for physical distancing
- Face mask requirements
- Single accommodations
- Adjusted transportation arrangements
- Increased cleaning and sanitization
When reading the Online Expedition Briefing, please keep these adjustments in mind.
Dolphins can be difficult to observe, but using underwater acoustic monitoring, we can better understand their behavior.
**PLEASE NOTE! This project is exclusively for Earthwatch's Girls in Science Fellowship. There are no public teams at this time.**
Dolphins spend most of their time underwater, making them difficult to observe and monitor. Scientists are hoping that by studying their acoustic communication, they can help mitigate the impacts of harmful situations, like ship collisions or noise pollution.
Through a collaboration with Woods Hole Sea Grant, the Girls in Science fellows will join researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Girls in Science fellows will join researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to study the ecology and behavior of dolphins. Fellows will analyze recordings collected from hydrophones—underwater microphones—to collect data on these animals’ distinctive whistles, which function somewhat like human names. These data will be used to study questions such as whether dolphins produce more whistles during the day vs. at night and whether certain dolphins have favorite associates with whom they spend most of their time.This information is not currently known and will help inform future research.
The fellows will also help classify the whistle recordings so they can also be used by other researchers to train machine learning algorithms to automatically classify different signature whistles. This will enable the study of other populations where much less is known about whistle production. These algorithms will provide valuable information about dolphin communication that will allow researchers to monitor their responses to human disturbances and help protect the species.
Throughout the week, fellows will participate in a daily curriculum where they will learn about climate change, how to take personal action, and how to make a difference in STEAM in order to contribute to a more sustainable future. Additionally, fellows will explore marine science pathways and career opportunities through meeting a wide range of Woods Hole’s research community. As a culmination of the experience, fellows will each tell their personal journeys in STEAM to their cohort.
A Typical Itinerary
- Day 1: Meet your team and settle in
- Days 2-6: Activities include:
- Learn about the research objectives and analyze dolphin bioacoustics data
- Attend lectures or meet and greets with female role models
- Participate in daily curriculum and workshops
- Build and deploy your own hydrophones
- Weather permitting, whale watch and kayaking
- Day:7 Departure
HOW YOU WILL HELP
Classify whistle recordings
In the lab, fellows will classify whistle vs. non whistles to improve machine learning algorithms.
Deploy acoustic recorder
Fellows will deploy a SoundTrap acoustic recorder to capture several days’ worth of real time data.
Construct buoys and hydrophones
With help from researchers, fellows will construct hydrophones to deploy on a kayak trip through estuaries and salt marshes.
Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
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