Science Fun: Acoustics
Acoustic moorings are set near the ocean floor throughout the northeastern Chukchi Sea to monitor the sounds that marine mammals make. When researchers analyze acoustic data, they can identify marine mammals because each species produces unique sounds. Researchers can also tell how many mammals are in an area by evaluating their acoustic occurrence in the study area. How representative the actual occurrence is depends on the animal, its behavior, and the time of year. Some species, such as beluga whales, are generally very vocal whereas others, like ringed seals, are much quieter. Bowhead whales do not vocalize much in summer, but call extensively in winter with males producing lengthy, elaborate songs. Mammal-eating killer whales make a lot of noise when they socialize, notably after successfully capturing prey, but when they hunt they are very quiet to avoid detection.