Tune In To Live Whale Songs on Your Computer

humpback noaa photo

Photo via NOAA

You can stream all sorts of nature sounds on your computer to keep you calm during the day -- babbling brooks or rustling trees or ocean waves. But have you ever listened to whales singing live to you? A project called Listen to the Deep Ocean or LIDO, gives you that opportunity. But surprisingly, the tools used to record the song are tuned for something much more... spacey. Researchers trying to listen to neutrinos, which are emitted by distant stars, have been able to pick up some extraordinary sounds of more earthly creatures. EarthTimes reports, "Amazingly, whales sing at the same wavelength as the neutrinos emitted by distant stars. Fishing for neutrinos 2500 metres under the Mediterranean Sea off Toulon in France lies the Antares project, one of 12 giant underwater telescopes located around the world. Particle physicists seek to detect the pulse of light emitted when a rare passing neutrino collides with a water molecule. Robert Lahmann is acoustic team leader at the Antares project, explains why the astrophysicists started to listen in to the depths, 'While no one has ever heard a neutrino, it is theoretically possible that we could hear a high energy collision, which is why Antares has an array of hydrophones attached to it.'"

While it's one thing to listen to neutrinos, it's also possible to tune in to the songs of whales and other creatures. Biologists are using the instruments to learn more about marine noise and how it impacts living creatures. We understand that noise pollution can be lethal to whales, and that even baby corals use reef "music" to find just the right spot on a reef, but this is only the beginning of understanding how sound affects marine life.

While this telescope is perhaps intended for particle physicists, marine biologists are certainly benefiting -- and so can you. Check out the LIDO project...and put on your headphones. Last checked, the Antares was picking up sperm whales, dolphins, baleen whales, shipping noise, and other sounds.

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More on Marine Sounds
TED Talk: The Incredible Ways Marine Mammals Use Sound
Ocean Noise Pollution Leads Baby Fish Away From Good Habitat
To Get Home, Baby Corals Dance to Reef Music

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