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Autonomous glider listens in on deep-diving whales off Hawaii

Bioacoustics, Science Add comments

A test run of one of the most promising new acoustic monitoring technologies is underway in Hawaiian waters: a six-foot long autonomous glider has been outfitted with a hydrophone, and has likely picked up foraging clicks of beaked whales.  University of Washington scientists did the glider’s engineering, while Oregon State researchers developed software to identify what is being heard.  “We believe we have identified beaked whales,” says OSU’s David Mellinger. “It was pretty exciting. You work a couple of years on a project, hope it will succeed, but you don’t know until the equipment is wet.”  The current glider deployment, which began on October 27, is scheduled to end on November 17.  Here at AEI, we take special pride in this research, since Mellinger is one of our founding board members!

APL-UWs Jason Gobat and Jim Mercer and a ship crew member retrieve a Seaglider that had traveled a quarter of the way across the Pacific Ocean gathering oceanographic data

APL-UW's Jason Gobat and Jim Mercer and a ship crew member retrieve a Seaglider that had traveled a quarter of the way across the Pacific Ocean gathering oceanographic data

Read more about this study at Nature News, and see real-time records from the glider itself at the bottom of this page at UW (check this map to see all currently deployed gliders, though the others are not doing acoustics research).  You can also read more about UW’s glider research at their Applied Physics Lab website, and see this presentation on acoustic glider research from a different research team.

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