Whale Acoustics: Seeing in the Dark


Course description

Acoustics is the primary means that whales and dolphins “see” in the dark depths of the oceans. Some click, some whistle, some moan, some sing—all use their vocal repertoire to communicate, navigate and forage. In this presentation, we will review specialized processes that allow cetaceans to “speak” underwater. We will also explore the auditory system and how far whales can hear, with application to how anthropogenic noise can alter whale habitat use, behaviour, energetics and even species success. Bones, photographs and examples of medical imaging will augment the discussion, drawing on results from cutting edge research being conducted on the BC coast.

Instructor: Rianna Burnham, BSc, MSc, is a marine mammologist specializing in marine ecosystems and ecology. She is currently a researcher at the UVic Whale Lab working on the Whale Habitat and Listening Experiment (WHaLE), a collaboration with Dalhousie University to prevent human disturbance to whales.

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