September 23, 2019Balaenoptera musculus
The Blue Whale is the largest mammal known today. They range 24 to 30 meters long and can weigh up to 200 tons. Military equipment was foundation to detect this species (and other species of whales) by sound. The US Navy’s SOSUS (Sound Surveillance System) had a powerful hydrophone and this enabled tracking whales by sound for several studies. This device led to more specialized devices being created for marine biological sound analysis.
One such tool was the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) hydrophone which contained data storage, batteries and a logging system to process captured sound via the hydrophone.
The PMEL hydrophone was instrumental in helping determine that Blue Whales are seasonally present (August through November) in the Gulf of Alaska. Before this data was captured, there was very little known about the Blue Whales’s presence in high latitudes.
- SUE E. MOORE, KATHLEEN M. STAFFORD, DAVID K. MELLINGER and JOHN A. HILDEBRAND, ‘Listening for Large Whales in the Offshore Waters of Alaska’, BioScience Vol. 56, No. 1 (January 2006), pp. 49-55 (7 pages) Vol. 3, No. 2 (NOVEMBER, 1907), pp. 19-20 (2 pages)](https://www.jstor.org/stable/26461109)
- PMEL Acoustics Program
Image Credit: NOAA Photo Library
Written by Jordan Polaniec, who loves software. You can follow him on Twitter