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Soundscapes and Passive Acoustics

Numerous fish, marine mammals and invertebrate species use sound in the ocean to communicate, navigate, find prey, and listen for or avoid predators. Sound in the ocean is a useful sensory modality because it can travel efficiently over long distances, and is available in deep, dark and murky waters, when light and other cues might not be. The diverse assemblage of sounds in the ocean are often referred to as the “soundscape”. Humans also produce a substantial amount of ocean noise, which can influence and change a local soundscape, and consequently could affect animal behavior.

Aran inspecting a coral in the USVI.(Photo: M Kaplan)

Our soundscape research investigates spatial and temporal variability in the sounds produced by marine animals and humans in a range of marine ecosystems. Specifically, we are interested in the relationship between the sounds produced in a given habitat and the animals that live there. One of our major research questions is – do the variety and abundance of sounds recorded in a given habitat accurately reflect that habitat’s animal biodiversity? Currently, our we are carrying out research in St John, US Virgin Islands, Maui, Hawaii, and Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts. These projects are detailed below.

Aran deploying acoustic recorders on areef in the USVI. (Photo: M Kaplan)