#8: Sounds from the Sea

As I mentioned in the previous blog, we've gotten some great acoustic data from the whales we've studied on the days we've been out in the bay. Below is a series of cool sound bytes we've collected over the month.

The first clip is from a separation event between a mother named Viola (Catalog #2029) and her calf. After swimming about 500 yards away from her calf, Viola suddenly began to breach, throwing her body out of the water over and over, performing seven or eight breaches total. Once she began, her straying calf bee-lined right for her, and Viola quit breaching upon its return. We can't be sure what messages, if any, Viola was sending to the calf; we can only postulate about what we saw. However, we can confidently assume the calf could hear it's mother's 60-to-80-ton body smacking back into the water at the end of every breach. We were recording near the calf, and here is one of the breach sounds we picked up on the hydrophones (listen for the splash about half way through the clip):

Another day on the water, we started our morning with the Surface Active Group (SAG) Marianna blogged about in this post. We've known for many years that SAGs are a setting for lots of vocalizations, and below is a series of up-calls (the trademark right whale communication call) we recorded while observing on the periphery of the SAG:

Finally, here is a recording from later on that same day, when we spent a few solid hours with mother #2790 and her calf. While we were with the pair, they spent the majority of their time separated, the mom most likely subsurface feeding in the area while the calf seemed to aimlessly bop around on its own. Throughout the afternoon the calf did a lot of stereotypical "mooing" sounds, so named because the sounds resemble a cow's moo. The sounds can be heard easily above the water's surface and also, as you can hear here, below. We're not sure what the sounds mean, but maybe by the end of this project we'll figure it out. In this clip, if you listen carefully you can first hear a soft slapping sound from when the calf slapped its flipper on the water's surface followed by a couple moos:

It's amazing how time flies--I'll be leaving Lubec in a day or two as our project comes to a close here for this season. I wish the rest of the researchers in the field house the best of luck through the end of September!



  1. These updates are terrific. Thanks so much for keeping us in the loop.

  2. Thanks NW! Glad you are enjoying them!

  3. Thanks for sharing these great vidoes.