Sunday 10 July 2011

The Fascinating World of Acoustics

By Cayla Ranice

I was excited to discover that each intern would be given their own project to work on during office days or during spare time and days on land. And I was even more excited to know that if we were interested, we could learn more about dolphin acoustics and work on analyzing whistles and clicks. I raised my hand immediately when we were all asked who was interested in getting involved with this. I’ve always found dolphin whistles super fascinating and wanted to learn more about them. So I was extremely happy when Tess informed me that I could work on acoustics with her. YAY! 

Since that day, I have been working on analyzing bottlenose dolphin whistles that were recorded by Tess at uShaka Sea World in Durban last year. There are many whistles to go through and it definitely takes a lot of concentration and motivation to get through them. Some days are harder than others and sometimes the whistles are confusing and unclear. But all in all, the experience has been awesome. Listening to dolphin sounds is really cool and being able to see what the whistles and other sounds look like on a spectrogram puts everything into a whole new perspective. I could listen to dolphin whistles all day! But I will admit that after 4 to 5 hours of staring at dolphin whistles, a headache often occurs and some minor frustration! I have recently started helping out with recording dolphins while out on the research boat as well. I love being able to see the dolphins in their natural habitat and also listen to them communicate at the same time. It’s a really rewarding feeling when you come home after a hard day at sea and look through your recordings from the day and discover that you did indeed catch the dolphins whistling. It’s truly amazing! 

(Note from Simon  - It's not all about work - this is Cayla and her sand angel on Sunset Dune. Acoustic projects don't make for good photos, so I've put this one in :). 

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