What underwater sounds can tell us about Indian Ocean humpback dolphins

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  • On today’s episode, we speak with marine biologist Isha Bopardikar, an independent researcher who is using bioacoustics to study humpback dolphins off the west coast of India.
  • Last month, Mongabay’s India bureau published an article with the headline “What underwater sounds tell us about marine life.” As Mongabay contributor Sejal Mehta notes in the piece, the world beneath the ocean’s surface is a noisy place, with animals sounding off for a number of purposes. Now, of course, humanity is interjecting more and more frequently, intruding on the underwater soundscape.
  • As Isha Bopardikar tells Mehta in the Mongabay India piece, in order to understand how marine animals use the underwater space and how human activities affect their behavior, we need hard data. That’s where her current work off the west coast of India comes in. In this Fields Notes segment, Bopardikar plays for us some of her dolphin recordings and explains how they are informing her research.

On today’s episode, we speak with marine biologist Isha Bopardikar, an independent researcher who is using bioacoustics to study humpback dolphins off the west coast of India.

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Last month, Mongabay’s India bureau published an article with the headline “What underwater sounds tell us about marine life.” Mongabay contributor Sejal Mehta notes in the piece that the world beneath the ocean’s surface is a noisy place, with animals sounding off for a number of purposes, from communicating with fellow members of their social units and attracting a mate to protecting their territory and hunting for food. Now, of course, humanity is interjecting more and more frequently, intruding on the underwater soundscape.

As marine biologist Isha Bopardikar tells Mehta in the Mongabay India piece, some of the most prevalent anthropogenic noises in the ocean are from oil and gas exploration, shipping, and other mechanized vessels. In order to understand how marine animals use the underwater space and how human activities affect their behavior, we need hard data, Bopardikar says. That’s where her current work off the west coast of India comes in.

Bopardikar is an independent researcher whose work is funded by the Rufford Foundation’s Small Grant For Nature Conservation. She receives additional support and research assistance from the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, housed at Cornell University in the US. The Bioacoustics Research Program, or BRP, supplied the hydrophone Bopardikar uses to collect acoustic data on Endangered Indian Ocean humpback dolphins who frequent a portion of India’s west coast that is busy with shipping traffic and other ocean-borne human endeavors.

In this Field Notes segment, Bopardikar plays us some of the recordings of the dolphins that she’s made and explains how these recordings are informing her research, which aims to shed light on humpback dolphins’ social behaviors and determine how disruptive human activities like shipping and fishing are to the animals.

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Humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea) socializing. Photo by Shaunak Modi.
Indian Ocean Humpback dolphins swimming/traveling. Photo by Shaunak Modi.
Indian Ocean Humpback dolphins breaching. Photo by Shaunak Modi.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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This story first appeared on Mongabay

South Africa Today – Environment



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