[MARMAM] New publication - Eavesdropping at the Speed of Light: Distributed Acoustic Sensing of Baleen Whales in the Arctic

Léa Bouffaut lb736 at cornell.edu
Wed Jul 13 07:03:12 PDT 2022

Dear Marmam community,

On behalf of my co-authors, I'm thrilled to share our recent publication demonstrating that we can eavesdrop (and more!) on whales using existing and already installed underwater telecommunication fiber optic cables. It is now available in open access in Frontiers In Marine Sciences:

Bouffaut, L., Taweesintananon, K., Kriesell, H. J., Rørstadbotnen, R. A., Potter, J. R., Landrø, M., Johansen, S. E., Brenne, J. K., Haukanes, A., Schjelderup, O., & Storvik, F. (2022): Eavesdropping at the Speed of Light: Distributed Acoustic Sensing of Baleen Whales in the Arctic. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9:901348. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2022.901348 <https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2022.901348>    

In a post-industrial whaling world, flagship and charismatic baleen whale species are indicators of the health of our oceans. However, traditional monitoring methods provide spatially and temporally undersampled data to evaluate and mitigate the impacts of increasing climatic and anthropogenic pressures for conservation. Here we present the first case of wildlife monitoring using distributed acoustic sensing (DAS). By repurposing the globally-available infrastructure of sub-sea telecommunication fiber optic (FO) cables, DAS can (1) record vocalizing baleen whales along a 120 km FO cable with a sensing point every 4 m, from a protected fjord area out to the open ocean; (2) estimate the 3D position of a vocalizing whale for animal density estimation; and (3) exploit whale non-stereotyped vocalizations to provide fully-passive conventional seismic records for subsurface exploration. This first example's success in the Arctic suggests DAS's potential for real-time and low-cost monitoring of whales worldwide with unprecedented coverage and spatial resolution.

If you'd like to learn more, we gave a talk to the joint IRIS & DAS RCN Webinar series, available on YouTube:  https://youtu.be/BS4dtG-12Q4 <https://youtu.be/BS4dtG-12Q4>.
Don't hesitate to get in touch with us for more information on this work.
Best regards,


Léa Bouffaut, Ph.D. (she/her)
Post-doctoral associate
K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University
lea.bouffaut at cornell.edu <mailto:lea.bouffaut at cornell.edu>
Twitter: @leabouffaut

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