Once upon a time, stepping outside was all one needed to do to become immersed in the sounds of nature -- though for most people nowadays, with the din of traffic and other auditory distractions ever-present, chances of hearing those sounds are fewer and far between. But worry not, city dweller. Thanks to an impressive collection of environmental recordings available online at the Western Soundscape Archive, the myriad of sounds in nature -- from the barks of a badger to the songs of a blue whale, and plenty more in between -- are available with the mere click of a mouse.
The Western Soundscape Archive (WSA) was established by the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library back in 2007 to compile animal calls and the ambient sounds of natural environments, focusing primarily on the western region of North America as well as the Arctic. So far the archive has collected the songs and sounds of nearly 700 birds, mammals, insects, and settings, carefully recorded by both professional and amateur naturalists.
While for some, perusing the collection of nature sounds might merely offer a pleasant distraction from all the less-welcome sounds we hear throughout the day, those in charge of WSA see the project as a means of preserving the auditory wonders of a rapidly changing world:
Many of the animals heard in the Western Soundscape Archive are threatened or vulnerable due to factors like habitat loss, climate change and pollution. Listen to just a few of these disappearing voices here.
The Western Soundscape Archive works to raise awareness of regional biodiversity by preserving the sounds of animals and their environments, and recognizes the crucial need for conservation worldwide.
But not only are the voices of some species in real risk of being silenced forever through extinction, the tranquil silence and quiet chatter of the great outdoors is itself at risk from human activity. According to the WSA, more than 80 percent of land in the continental United States is within one mile of a road, and the sounds of airplane traffic has more than tripled since the 1980s. In other words, even the most sonorous species' songs may never be appreciated quite the same way as in years past.
Check out the complete, searchable archive here.
[Via Book of Joe]