Sonic Sea

Sonic Sea is a new documentary that highlights the ways in which industrialized ocean noise affects whales – including their communication, foraging, navigation, and stress. You can see the film on the Discovery Channel or at various screenings around the country.


“Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life. But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. Sonic Sea is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution.”

On July 7th (@ 7PM), there will be an Oceanview Foundation screening of Sonic Sea at the Block Island Library – hosted by [fantastic former MSC student] Mary Cerulli and the Nature Conservancy.  Check out this great write-up about the event (by Mary) in the Block Island Times:


Shoals Marine Lab 2016

Marine Mammal Biology at the Shoals Marine Lab was a fantastic experience this year!!  We had a wonderful group of students from Cornell, Brandeis, Skidmore, UNH, & URI.  Here are some highlights:

RadioLab: Hello

“It’s tough to make small talk with a stranger – especially when that stranger doesn’t speak your language. (And he has a blowhole.)”

RadioLab is a FANTASTIC radio program that presents engaging [and often fascinating] stories about science.  (Co-host Jad Abumrad recently won a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship for his work on this and other programs).

This episode focuses on dolphin intelligence and communication.  D. Graham Burnett, science historian and author of “The Sounding of the Whales: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century”, gives a great analysis of why people care so much about whales and dolphins.  Act Two, describing a wild dolphin communication project in the Bahamas gives a very realistic account of why field work can be so difficult – and why projects can go for several years with no results.

[UPDATE – 07/23/15] This piece was highlighted in “Roughly 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism” for 2014 by The Atlantic.

NEFSC May Cruise 2013 – Testing

After leaving the dock yesterday, we went to Vineyard Sound for some testing.  We launched both of the small boats on board, did a test cast with the oceanographic instruments, and performed fire and abandon ship drills.

This morning, south of Nantucket, we awoke to the sound of the ships’ fog horn and low visibility (photo #1, taken from the porthole in one of the labs).

A scientist from the NOAA Fisheries lab deployed one of five yellow listening buoys, which will sit on the seafloor and record all ambient noise until August, when they’ll be collected (photo #2).

Foggy days mean that we can’t do much work (today most folks are working on their laptops, napping, watching movies, or reading), for now we’re steaming northeast into our study area and hoping for clearer conditions.