Deep-sea sensors helping researchers learn about beaked whales

Written by on September 23, 2016 in Technology, Whales & Dolphins

A new set of drifting deep-sea acoustic sensors will help researchers learn more about elusive beaked whales.

Listening buoy deployed off California coast. Photo credit: NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Listening buoy deployed off California coast. Photo credit: NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

NOAA scientists plan to deploy 20 buoys 300 miles off the coast that will be suspended 330 feet below the surface. The buoys are equipped with listening devices that will record whale vocalizations over a period of 20 days. They’re expected to drift about 100-200 miles over the course of the survey.

“The great advantage of the buoys is that their collective 400 days at sea is like increasing our ship effort by a factor of 10 with very little increase in cost,” Jay Barlow, co-chief scientist of the survey, said in a news release.

The Cuvier’s beaked whale population is estimated to have declined from 10,700 individuals in 1981 to 7,500 in 2008, though researchers aren’t sure what’s causing the decline. The data collected during this survey will help researchers better understand these whales in order to implement better protection efforts.

To learn more:

Blainville's beaked whale. Photo credit: John Durban, NOAA SWFSC/Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization.

Blainville’s beaked whale. Photo credit: John Durban, NOAA SWFSC/Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization.

Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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