A Fascinating Look at Acoustics of Whales


Peter Tyack of Woods Hole took the TED Mission Blue folks through a spectacular view of the acoustics of whales and dolphins in his talk during the voyage. It was recently posted to TED.com and it may be my new favorite TED talk ever!  I am floored by the graphic representations of sound waves produced by the whales – from their ability to mimic bridge signals in an aquarium setting, to shifting their contact calls out of the “noisy” band range of sound dominated by ship’s noise pollution, to the ability of low frequency transmissions to travel hundreds of miles.

It’s always difficult to discuss sound production in animals with my students because humans are much more of a visual species than we are acoustic – its painfully hard for us to make intelligent sense of our world without our eyes and its rather hard to view sound.  This talk gave me at least a dozen new ideas for describing and displaying Tyack’s juicy tidbits on whale bioacoustics.  If you have a spare twenty minutes, don’t miss this one.