Voices of the Deep:

                 Humpback Whales of the North Pacific

 

Exploring the global intelligence of humpback whales

Over a decade of field seasons in southeast Alaska, we monitored the behaviors and vocalizations of humpback whale populations, largely during their summer residence in the Inside Passage of the Alaskan panhandle.


Complementing behavioral reportings, we employ multi-hydrophone recordings and acoustic playbacks.


In addition to this marine biological research effort, we are developing a plan for an observatory—the SouthEast Alaska WHale observatory (SEAWHO)—to provide the cloud with realtime, online acoustic signals from a large hydrophone-array deployment in Fredericks Sound. Beyond accumulating a massive behavioral data set for cetacean researchers worldwide, the processing backend will employ modern causal inference and machine learning to identify individual whales by their vocalizations and positional migration and to extract useful interpretations of their acoustic interactions.


Documentary:

Fathom follows Dr. Ellen Garland and Dr. Michelle Fournet, two scientists focused on the study of humpback whale songs and social communication. As they embark on parallel research journeys on opposite sides of the world, they seek to better understand whale culture and communication. Premiers 25 June 2021 on Apple TV+. Trailer. Press release.


Video:

Laurance Doyle & Fred Sharpe, Humpback Whale Communication and the Search for Alien Intelligence.

Winner of the 2021 Webby Award for best Science and Education video.


Talks:

Jim Crutchfield, N Whales from M Hydrophones: Seminar, Complexity Sciences Center, Physics Department, University of California, Davis, California, 28 August 2019. (Video).


Fred Sharpe and Jodi Frediana, Whale-SETI Project and Field Season 2021: Seminar, Complexity Sciences Center, Physics Department, University of California, Davis, California, 14 July 2021. (Video). Warning: Audio quality varies, esp. with whale vocalization recordings.


Fred Sharpe and Jodi Frediana, Bubble Physics and Play: Seminar, NOYO Center for Marine Science in Fort Bragg, California, 15 July 2021. (Video). Fred and Jodi discuss bubble physics, bubble production on the feeding gand breeding/calving grounds, and tool use and play.

NEWS


25 June 2021: Fournet’s bioacoustic whale studies highlighted in documentary Fathom. Premiers Tribeca 16 June 2021, available globally 25 June on Apple TV+.

Trailer. Press release.


World Wide Whale: Starting new companion project on information-theoretic tools for detecting syntax, semantics, and intention in bioacoustics signals.