Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have completed a proof of concept study that appears to be able to identify individual whale calls in the data collected by seismic surveys. In the initial data, the researchers were able to cull fin whale calls from the recordings made as airguns blasted their pulses of sound into the ocean floor. Blue whales are also likely candidates for being heard on the recordings, since their calls also overlap with the frequencies of interest to seismic mapping efforts.
“We have a huge amount of data that can say, ‘Did they change their behavior? Did they stop feeding? Did they stop talking? Did they talk louder?’, and that’s what we want to know,” said WHOI seismologist Dan Lizarralde.
Lizarralde and collaborators are currently seeking funding to develop a computer algorithm that can help with the daunting task of extracting the whale calls from massive amounts of seismic survey data.
For the full story, including spectrograms and comments from other researchers, see this story on LiveScience.com