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Interview 8:54 - 2:03:33 Play 8:54 - More
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Chris Clark  







Bioacoustics Research Program; Whale communication; Noise pollution in the ocean  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
6 Apr 2005

  • United States
    New York
    Tompkins County
  • Ithaca; Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • 42.4800624   -76.4514796
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Equipment Note
  • Decoded MS Stereo and Split Track

Show: Northern Right Whale
Log of DAT # 8
Engineer: Carlos Gomez
Date: April 6, 2005

0:29 boat sounds
0:45 sound fades out
0:47 boat sounds
0:51 talking in background
1:00 boat sounds
1:14 boat sounds, talking in background
1:30 boat sounds fade out
1:42 CG: Recording MS tape number 9 I believe. We are at the Cornell lab of ornithology. 20 seconds on my mark. This will be arrival in the car and a couple doors slamming.
2:02 doors slamming
2:07 car arrives, walking
2:15 walking, birds in background
2:23 CG: Finding a parking space.
2:28 walking, car
2:33 cars passing
2:47 walking, cars
2:54 CG: Them pulling into the parking.
2:55 walking
2:58 cars, birds
3:24 car pulls up
3:34 car stops
3:40 doors slamming
3:44 walking
3:49 car starts
3:56 car drives away
4:08 car pulls up
4:22 doors slamming
4:24 walking, birds
4:37 shuffling in car, walking, birds, cars in background
5:00 birds, cars
5:17 plane passing
5:49 car starts
5:54 sound fades out, squeaky noise
5:55 silence
6:00 FX
6:03 walking
6:04 JG: It's funny they're probably so used to seeing microphones here.
6:07 CG: So they're trying to record birds here by the highway?
6:10 JG: We'll just walk up here.
6:11 walking, talking in background
6:23 birds, cars
6:29 walking, cars
7:02 CG: Trunk opening, 5:35
7:11 trunk opening
7:14 shuffling around
7:23 trunk closing
7:25 cars, talking in background
7:30 sounds fades, squeaky noise
7:32 silence
7:41 John Nielsen (JN): They were over there. Yeah there were a couple of guys sitting on it, you know like drinking beer. Throwing the bottles, shooting them. Stuff like that.
7:53 Chris Clark (CC): Yeah we had one of them pretty badly vandalized.
7:55 JN: Really? Why would anybody do that? I guess they think, to catch fish.
8:00 CC: Well the fishermen are not, some of them are not really excited by anything to do with right whales. So.
8:04 JG: So you don't need any introduction to the microphone, I'm sure.
8:07 CC: Yeah. I've done this before, Chris Joyce says oysters, beer, and squash and you got 'em.
8:15 laughing
8:27 CC: That's not fair Chris, you're giving away all my secrets.
8:28 JN: He's cool.
8:29 CC: He's very cool, It's always so interesting to hear you guys on the radio. Because you know the picture for a long time, you never hear, all you hear is a voice. You have an image of somebody. Then you meet the person then you have another image, but you don't put the two and two together.
8:47 JN: Yeah, yeah.
8:50 JG: Like those animals that you can hear but you can't see.
8:51 JN: And the voice starts to¿alright so we're sitting on this boat with um stormy. And right at the end we saw one of the buoys and I say well what happens over there? And Stormy says well I don't know exactly, you know.
9:12 CC laughing
9:13 JN: He gets the sound, sends it up in the air, comes down, and Chris is off on his computer somehow. Well, arr.
9:22 CC: It's all magic.
9:23 JN: So I mean if we follow the flow of the sound it brings us here. And what you know, let's just, if we're talking about what, what. If we want to know what kinds of noises they were making if any while we were out there looking at them, you can find that stuff.
9:39 CC: Yes, to a certain degree. So what, what you saw was a buoy, so it's a big floating object with a tower on it.
9:48 JN: Yeah
9:49 CC: And the tower's got an antennae and the antennae allows a cell phone system to connect to the cell phone circuitry in the sky. And underneath the water is a little tiny blob about, a cylinder about two inches long and about an inch in diameter. And it's a hydrophone. And it's sitting there recording and acquiring the sound from the ocean, it comes up into a little box that's sitting on this buoy and inside the box we've got some magic circuitry which has been trained to listen for the calls of right whales.
10:25 JN: What does trained mean? It filters things out?
10:26 CC: Well I mean, yeah, we do a little bit of filtering and amplification and all those kinds of things. But we're listening for a particular kind of sound that right whales all over the world make and it's their contact call. And it's a really simple sound and I'll play some of those for you because it's really a moo. It's this "mmmmmmmooo" like this. And it's the call that working way back in the 30 years ago with Roger Paine and Katie Paine in South America, I did for my thesis work was observe animals and listen to them at the same time. And pretty much repeatedly you see them doing this counter calling. And they're using this call as sort of the "Hello" call. And it may even be "Hello I'm Chris" versus "Hello I'm Mary."
11:12 But they counter call back and forth and then when two whales swim to each other and they counter call and they meet up, they stop calling and they swim off together or they cavort around a little bit, but it's the first call you're gonna hear from a right whale. So we built, we have a signal processing circuitry on there which is basically a little smart mousetrap computer in the 21st century that has the code it has the memory of what to listen for in the case of a sound. And if it hears that kind of a call, something that's changing pitch. Rising in pitch, and lasts about a second or two and starts at about 100 hertz or 80 hertz. You know this would be, starts about you know two octaves below orchestral A on a piano or on a violin, you know "mmmmm" somewhere around there, it'll trigger, it'll say "that's a right whale."
12:13 And it's registers the time and it captures the sound and it saves the sound and it keeps all these statistics. And then once every four hours it calls home on the cell phone and it takes about 10 minutes and it just sends this message back and it comes to a server here in the lab and then Eric, one of our software engineers has written a little program that unwraps all those data and repackages it and I go to my desktop, click a button and bingo.
12:40 JN: And if it hears "chug chug chug chug" it filters it out because it says that's a boat.
12:50 CC: Right, then of course I use my own brain and my eyes and I look at these images that are put up on my screen and I say "that's a right whale, that's a right whale, that is not a right whale right there." Because what it's doing is it's collecting, every two seconds it's making a decision about whether it's got a sound or not, and it's ranking them.
13:10 JN: Right
13:11 CC: And it's right now it's sending all the ranks, even the ones, the score is 1 to 10. So 10 are the greatest hits.
13:20 JN: And we're looking at your computer at a graph that looks to me like it shows well it's the passage of time and a bunch of gray staticy stuff above it and at the bottom a bunch of shapes that look like canine incisors or something.
13:35 CC: There you go, yeah.
13:36 JN: And each one of those¿
13:40 CC: Is a little black smudge that's you know got a slight slant to it.
13:44 JN: Yeah, that's a right whale.
13:45 CC: Looks as if someone took a you know pen or something, dragged it across a piece of paper going low to high.
13:50 What to those things sound like?
13:51 CC: And uh, so you're gonna have to give me a little break here and I can just, I'll amplify those and because right now they're pretty soft, I don't think you'd hear them over the loudspeaker. And I don't know if you wanna just plug it in or I can give you a AIF or a wave file or, sorry, however you wanna merge that into this thing.
14:09 JN: Yeah, whatever you wanna do Carl.
14:10 CG: Well when you're done talking I'd like to plug back in.
14:14 JN: Sure, that'd be fine. So, uh oh I talked to Nancy Baren too. This is off the subject, you know Nancy?
14:21 CC: Why do I know Nancy?
14:22 JN: Nancy works with Pew.
14:23 CC: Okay, that name sounds really familiar.
14:25 JN: She lives out in Santa Barbara, she does a lot of marine stuff.
14:30 CC: I've talked to her on the phone.
14:31 JN: She said ask Chris about how he got interested in whale calls.
14:37 CC: Oh¿laughing¿she has a story huh. She knows I have a story. We all have stories.
14:46 JN: What is it?
14:47 CC: Alright, here we go. So, if I play you¿these I'll just, these are straight, no amplification, let's see how they are.
14:57 JG: If you could just tell us what we're hearing beforehand.
14:58 CC: Yup. So these will be, these are contact calls from right whales in Cape Cod bay. Now these came in on Saturday. And these sounds were obviously made by whales that were very close to the same buoy you're talking about. Up off of Ray's Point. And the reason I know they're loud is because I can see up to what are called seven harmonics. It's a very rich sound and you're only gonna receive these kinds of details in the sound unless the animal is you know a hundred yards or two hundred yards away. And they're going to sound uh, you know, not very see it's pretty hard to¿
15:42 whale sounds
15:51 JN: I've heard that sound before. Why have I heard that sound before?
15:55 CC: Probably in a barnyard.
15:56 JN: Yeah?
15:56 CC: Sounds sort of mooey. And these are grazers so it's not unlike a cow that's out there grazing.
16:05 JN: Well we saw, we saw a couple of individuals grazing, they looked just like they were mowing the plankton just like you mow a lawn. They were literally going back and forth on a grid almost.
16:16 CC: So they were surface feeding?
16:17 JN: Yeah. And so they would have been making that sound.
16:19 CC: No they probably wouldn't have, well this is what Stormy and I wanna answer.
16:25 whale recordings
16:34 CC: I'm overdriving that speaker.
16:36 whale recordings
16:40 CC: When they're feeding, they're most likely not actually calling. When their mouths are open they're not calling. So they don't speak with their mouths full.
16:50 JN: Right
16:51 CC: But, there's something going on here where we're finding that there is this tendency to have a lot of calling going on when there are whales in these patches of food. Or, no let me rephrase that. There's a lot of calling going on in Cape Cod bay when there are whales there. That's obvious, but we're finding that where the whales are and what they're doing, so when they're over on the east part of the bay and this is where the food is. This is where we're finding lots of calling going on. And there's a pronounced increase in calling right after sunset. So for about the two or three hours after sunset, the rate of calling goes up by about two or three times. So it's what's going on.
17:36 JN: Yeah.
17:37 CC: And the question of Stormy is okay so are they still feeding when the sun goes down? Or is the food still there. And this isn't like these typical vertical migrations that you get with say other species of crill, other species of plankton with masses of crill where they migrate vertically in the water column and they disperse when they get to the surface at night. So therefore most whales will take a break. And they'll wait til the early morning, three four o'clock in the morning until the plankton starts to go down. And as it descends, it congregates and the whales start feeding again.
18:18 JN: Right.
18:10 CC: But the bay is so shallow you know it's only 100 feet deep or so, there's not a vertical migration or if there is it's on the order of meters. So what's going on? There's all this calling at night, there's calling during the day, there's calling when there's food. What are they calling about? And from the hydrophone data we know that I can hear a whale call pretty much anywhere in the bay unless it's up in really shallow water. So if it's up in 20 or 30 feet on the mud flap or something like that the sound won't get out of there and be able to get all the way across to say Plymouth. But we've been listening to whales where you were off say Ray's Point. I can have a whale calling up there and I can hear it off of Sandwich or I can hear it down off of Bruister. Or vice versa. And this is not necessarily on a really crystal clear day. This can be on a day when there's boat traffic and things like that. Not high boat traffic but some boat traffic.
19:16 JN: And this mystery is what are they doing?
19:17 CC: Yeah, are they, so here's one of the revelations. Okay so if I'm a right whale, outside of Cape Cod bay, passing by, if I'm listening carefully I can actually hear whale calling from within the bay. And that could be a signal of "Oh, my buddies are in there, there's some food, I'm gonna go in a check it out." Now we know that whale will go in they bay when there is nobody else in the bay because say November, December, January when the food hasn't built up, they'll scout the area because we'll acoustically track them. They won't see them from the airplane, nobody will be reporting right whales in the bay, but acoustically we'll pick up a caller. And they'll come in the bay and every 20 minutes, every half an hour you'll hear this "mmmmmmmooo" and then ten minutes later you'll hear "mmmmmmmmoo."
20:09 And you might get a counter call and then they'll call back and forth. And it's as though they're checking in and they're saying okay well I'm here, you're here, got anything going on. But they're just meander around a little bit and the next day they'll be gone. And from the few bits and pieces we have from tagging data and say the work that Stormy's been doing where they've gone out and tried to rescue an animal that's gotten tangled, and they put a tag, they put a beacon on the float and they're following the whale around, these whales are moving into all their different favorite restaurants.
20:49 They're going down to Great South Channel, they're going up to Jeffery's Ledge, they're going over to you know Wilconsin's Basin, they're going to Wildcat's, they're coming to the Bay they'll go all over the place checking it out. And when you consider they're only maybe 300 or 350 of them left, it's amazing that we're able to get this much information as it is.
21:09 JN: Yeah, and I mean you don't know for sure whether what they're saying is Okay here's the food, here's the food come and get it, here's the food get away from it, or I mean do they gather after those sounds or is there any behavioral¿
21:24 CC: Well we haven't, there aren't really¿
21:25 JN: You just started
21:27 CC: There aren't really good observations linking the acoustics with the feeding with what individuals are actually doing, not in Cape Cod bay. There are efforts traditionally made in the summer time up in the Gulf of Maine which is where you see surface active groups and there is feeding going on but a lot of the feeding is at depth. So they're diving down to you know 100 meters or 50 meters. So they're doing what's known as water column feeding. But they're also doing surface, skin feeding. But the Gulf of Maine in the summer time to me is, it's very crowded. There're a lot of people, they're ferries, there're planes flying overhead. And it's catch as catch can. Whereas Cape Cod bay is this marvelous little laboratory where you can go out, as you did, and in an hour you can be out there in the middle of the bay or less and be around these animals. And I don't think you had other boats whipping by you and probably there wasn't someone going by on a jetski and waterskis and all that kind of garbage, you know you were out there, observing the whales.
22:35 JN: Only other contact we heard was a coastcard vessel telling a fisherman he was gonna be boarded. That was it.
22:42 laughing
22:44 JN: Seriously that's the only thing I heard. But see I wanna go back to this playing the margins thing because you guys are all Casey at the bat here you know, not to imply that that's how it'll turn out.
22:54 CC: Right
22:55 JN: But um, what is the thing, I know that you study the sounds because they are the sounds. But how, in the case of the right whale even though some of the causes of mortality are just overwhelmingly obvious, they get whacked by ships. It's to the point now where we've got to get as many straws off the back of the camel as we can and so you're trying to figure out whether sound is part of the problem. How does that relate? Am I am I¿
23:37 CC: Okay are you getting into this whole realm where human generated sound is part of the problem?
23:42 JN: Yeah I am, I'm just trying to you know what are you doing to save the whale?
23:46 CC: So we'll expose you to some of that garbage that's out there is that uh, so the first point is that these animals although they're big and slow and overweight and you know wandering around eating stuff on the top of the ocean, they are really exquisite listeners. Their ears are adapted for listening to the ocean. And they're voices are beautifully adapted for communicating at the longest ranges possible they can in these coastal habitats. If you simply ask the question, if I wanted to make a sound that was going to be heard the furthest distance away what would that sound be in the coastal habitat where I live and make my living? And right whales make it. The best place to put your voice is between about 100 and 400 hertz. And the trick that they're doing is they're sweeping it, this is the same trick that sonar engineers use. It's the same trick that radar engineers use.
24:51 JN: They're sweeping it?
24:52 CC: They're sweeping, they're changing their pitch. So instead of making a claps a clap, or going "ooooooooo" like this where you're always taking the risk. If you make a clap, it's gonna get confused with a lot of other bangs. So in a clap you're putting all your eggs in one basket, one big broadband pulse. The other one you're putting all your eggs in one frequency and if you get some interference you're not gonna get through. And you can get all kinds of reverberation and cancellation so, the same tricks that sonar and radar engineers use to design a sonar signal under water or a radar signal that a plane is gonna make when it's coming in to you know land at Logan airport, you compromise. You send something that actually changes frequency over time and it sweeps up. That's what bats do, right, if you're doing sonar.
25:47 So this is what the whales are doing. Not that they're using it as sonar, but it's a really nice package to send through the water, oh sorry, you send through the water that you the listener have a really good chance of hearing. And you might not hear all the frequencies in that "mmmmmmooo" because after 50 miles you might just hear "mmm mmm mmm mmm" but when you put it all together you hear, your ear fills in the gaps and you hear "mmmmmoo" and that's your call. And these calls if we're in the right situation where it's a really quiet day, basically that really crystal clear fall day where everything you can see for miles.
26:24 JN: Yesterday
26:24 CC: Right, when you're in those situations and the ocean in quiet, these sounds can go for forty miles or so, fifty miles. And we don't actually know how good their ears are. We're just assuming that they must be pretty good. And if you talk to someone like Darlene Ketten at Wood's Hole, who has been studying and evaluating just how good they are, these whales, this big slow lumbering giants, they have just as much hardware in their ears and in their brains as flipper the dolphin or shamoo the killer whale, but all of it is devoted to low frequency. They have just as many hair cells, you know all the anatomical and central nervous system properties, it's all devoted to low frequency. So you go, okay so if I had all that stuff, I had all that hardware and software in there and I wasn't trying to listen for you know the ultrasonic chirp of flipper, I'm trying to hear a low frequency sound, wow I've got a basically a fovia, like our visual system where you can focus your eye on colors and visual dimensions. They can focus their acoustic mind on sound. And so this is how they can communicate over long ranges.
27:51 And what's happening right now over the last century in particular and then this last 30, 40 years is that we're introducing into the environment the noise that is smogging them out. It's basically creating this pollution that's blocking their acoustic visibility. So suddenly I can't hear you 50 miles away. On a good day I might be able to hear you 10 or 15 miles away. And on a really good day maybe that aperture opens up and I can do it. But on most days, when there's shipping traffic coming through Cape Cod Bay or shipping traffic coming around the backside of the cape, my world is shrunk, my whole ability to find you and call to you and communicate to you for whatever reason, and we can argue about the reasons and all these kind of things, but the fact of the matter is that their world is collapsing. So as you're listening to me now and you can hear my voice because it's nice and clean and the microphone's close by and we don't have a lot of fans on and things like that. If suddenly we were to introduce into this conversation a plane going overhead or cars going by all those things, the audience that's listening to me would suddenly have "what's wrong with the radio, I'm suddenly having a hard time hearing this." And at some point they'd say I give up, in fact I can't hear anything. And this is what's happening day after day after day after day.
29:34 What we've learned from these long term records we've now been monitoring around New England, we've now been monitoring all the way off to Georgia, to Savannah Georgia, every day for the last six months¿
29:44 JG: What is that?
29:45 JN: Somebody upstairs talking.
29:47 CC: Yeah this is an interesting design, these tubes, they didn't have anybody that had any acoustic smarts, see these tubes? Oh you know who it is? No it's not Connie, that's not her voice. It's coming through, it's ducting right through these tubes. I can go over and put my ear on it and I can listen to John's conversations in his office. No, that's another one. But it's like Good God.
30:13 JG: Sorry you were just saying what we learned I'm sorry.
30:18 CC: Yeah just that these uh, the level of noise introduced by human shipping, and I'm sort of accumulating this under one roof, human activities, but shipping is by far the greatest insult around Massachusetts right now and around New England, we're looking at these levels the consistency, sorry the consistency and the persistence is extraordinary. I thought that in the winter time, January, February, March, okay maybe now the fishing boats are gonna go out and there'd be more traffic. It was 24/7 365 days a year. There was no let up in the level of this background noise. And I can show you some images which when you look at them it's as though you're standing at Logan Airport or you're down at LAX or you're at Heathrow. This stuff is just coming in all the time, every ten minutes or so.
31:21 Or every six hours there's another ship and some of these ships move very slowly. So although it's only six hours apart, or sorry so although it is six hours apart, the sound is so persistent that it lasts for hours. So if you imagine some of the cliffs, I don't know if you went outside where you were at like a Highland light, but if you stand and look out at the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod or the Pacific Ocean from Point Sur or one of these sort of majestic vistas that you can imagine having and the sunset is occurring or the sunrise is occurring and you're going oh gosh this is just an epiphany here, if you listened to what was going on in that ocean at that time, you would be astounded. And a depressing kind of astounding. Because you would think I had no idea how much noise that ship on the farthest part of the horizon, how much noise that ship is putting into the ocean. So that purple shipping lane that you might see on a chart, that prescribes how ships should move up and down along the east coast coming east west or north south, those shipping lanes, these are highways.
32:38 JN: It's a completely different way of seeing that world isn't it? I mean so to speak since you're listening and not seeing. I just want to make sure I understand what you're saying, you stand on a cliff and you look out on something like the Atlantic or the Pacific and what I would imagine people who don't do what you do see this endless immutable blue thing that I can't imagine ever changing. And you listen to it, and you hear chaos. Something new, something really ugly, at least.
33:12 CC: Yeah, overlaying what is the bounty of the natural scene is this noise. And the noise is basically the grinding of engines. It's the inefficiency of our propulsion systems that push our commerce around through water. And fishing boats are notoriously noisy because they don't have the funds to tweak their propeller shafts and file their propellers and things like that. But it is something that once you've experienced it, once you've stood there and you've watched and you've seen the beauty and then sometimes in that same moment you put the headphones on and you listen. And the contrast is so dramatic that you go oh my gosh, and then you think oh I know from what little I know, these animals are exquisitely attuned to sound. Their soul is based on what they hear. Their self concepts if they have those which I believe they do is based on their ears not their eyes. So you and I see our way through our world, we have visual memories that are astounding. And some of us train ourselves to have pretty descent acoustic memories, but you can't hear yourself home. You can't hear yourself out of this office, down the hall, into your car. Hear yourself going from one place to another but you see yourself doing that.
34:50 But whales, what I believe is that whales can hear themselves doing that. Their whole image their mapping of their world is based on acoustics and not with right whales so much although we do see right whales moving from one feature to another but on small scale. So you'll see them move say from the canal to Ray's point. How do they know that they're supposed to be transiting themselves on a 33 degree vector and end up there, we don't know. But we certainly see the really large whales that we're tracking over hundreds of thousands of miles slalom from one geographic feature to the next. And the only way that they can "see" that is by hearing the echo of their voices off these features. So these animals are just really in tune with their acoustic environment. And what we've been doing is just pouring sound into that environment without thought and without thinking of what impact that might have on them.
35:50 JN: So in the case of your buoy back in the water that we saw yesterday. I don't know if interesting is the word but every more interesting than the whale sounds you can get out of it would probably be the sounds that you have to filter out to get to them. You know, just the enormity of that and I guess that kind of cries out to hear what some of those are, I don't know if you keep track of that stuff but you know.
36:16 CC: Well we do we have um you know records and records and records of and the sad irony of this, here we are in the beginning of the 21st century finally paying attention to what is in our backyard and we have some crises going on with some particular species and I think that's just the tip of the preverbal iceberg and indicative of what's happening with a lot of other species, fish, we haven't talked about fish
36:45 JN: Right
36:46 CC: But fish are getting hammered and here we are trying to listen to their world and the thing that's giving us the greatest difficulty, the impediment to making the greatest amount of progress are the very things that are influencing their world, that are impacting their world, namely all the noise. It's really hard for us to run automatic detection systems which when I take them down to south America work beautifully, but you try to run them off of New England, and there's so much noise in the water it's really hard to find the right whale because you're just being bombarded constantly by the noise of the ships. It just goes on and on and on. And this is not even to mention the other things, the other insults that are thrown at them in different places where you have seismic prospecting for oil and hydrocarbons.
37:37 JN: The acute things.
37:38 CC: The, yes, and these are, these are basically controlled explosions where humans have gotten really clever at being able to generate high levels of energy which they try as best they can to project downward into the earth to get reflections in order to prospect for oil and gas. But a lot of the energy radiates out horizontally. Water is a beautiful transmitter for sound. So you can't avoid it propagates out, it moves out. You know it's just like setting off a firecracker at night. It just goes everywhere. And every thirteen seconds kaboom, and every thirteen seconds kaboom. And I could show you images where as though you were looking down on an ocean. And instead of seeing sea surface temperature that you might have seen on the nightly news when they're talking about El Nino and La Nina where they're talking about "Oh look" or weather, when you watch weather and they have colors to map what the temperature is and all this stuff.
38:39 JN: Right.
38:40 CC: We can now map noise the same way. And when you look down on this surface and it's all oscillating and undulating with color and red is noisy and blue is quiet, you can map these ships and they're streaks of red going through the environment. And the traffic lanes are just constant red glow as though you left your shutter open in one of those national geographic magazines with all the tail lights of all the cars. And it's just one big string of red. And then if you put a seismic profiler in there bam, every thirteen seconds every fourteen seconds depending on what their schedule is, an explosion of light. And it just radiates out. And by the time it's finished radiating, even before it's finished radiating, another one goes off. So that eventually the entire habitat is just pulsing.
39:34 Or you remember the scenes out of some of those World War II movies where the guys are throwing the depp charges, the Germans are throwing depp charges off the back of¿
39:39 JN: Yeah
39:40 CC: ¿the ship, that's what it's like. And the world, every time the depp charge is thrown in the water it's going thoom. Right.
39:48 JN: Everything shakes, yeah.
39:49 CC: Yup. And literally when those air guns go off the surface of the water rises up and comes down because they're creating an enormous set of air bubbles that are pushing the water up and pushing it down.
40:00 JN: So we have acute, I'm trying to, trying to keep something in my head that's the trouble when people are really damn interesting. I desperately hold onto thoughts 'til the ends of sentences. Um, I want you know I talked to Art Poper for a long time, I talked to Brandon Southal, I talked to a lot of these folks. So I mean I've been doing homework okay, and Art who appears to be everybody's mentor who ever lived and properly cranky he says "Well it's an incredibly interesting, wildly speculative field of study right now. And he was, I mean he meant this in particular of sonar but you know he's studying fish and sounds and he says there's just we don't have any causal anything. We have a lot of things to point towards something happening and you don't know what it is do you Mr. Jones.
40:56 CC: Right, right.
40:57 JN: And so I don't know how to ask you that but you know you have what looks like, you have identified what looks like potentially a very, very serious problems for the right whale. Something that could be helping pushing them towards or off the edge whatever the edge is, wherever the edge is. But, how do you prove it and what do you do with when you do? Is that where you are?
41:22 CC: How do you prove it?
41:26 JN: And what do you prove?
41:27 CC: Yeah and it's the classic situation. It's the slow insidious deterioration of a habitat. And you're never gonna get it back. We're never gonna get back the east coast the way it was once when whoever showed up here, whether it was the Chinese or the Pilgrims or the Vikings whoever it was. And the whales were, this was there world, we're never gonna get that back. Just like we're never gonna get back the salt marshes that were filled in by one company or another or a laundry mat or a strip mall or whatever it is.
42:04 JN: People building the nation's capitol.
42:10 CC: Yeah, it's just the slow erosion of those places. And that insidious erosion is going on in the acoustic world of our coastlines. And these are the planes, these are the watery planes that are so incredibly rich and productive and we need to pay attention to what we're doing there and acoustics is just the latest, or it's another of many insults that we've inflicted on that habitat. And right whales are, I don't want to call them to poster child but they are one of these species, these mega fauna that get a lot of attention and they can get people to focus on this and go oh my goodness. So what I'm saying is the right whales are getting hammered by this because their world of communication has been collapsed, not because of anything they did but because of something we're doing. And on top of that, we've got toxic loads in the water, so we know they're carrying high levels of PCBs and you know persistent organic, what is it? POPs
43:13 JN: Persistent¿
43:14 CC: Whatever, all these things are happening.
43:17 JN: Polychlorinated bifenals (?)
43:20 CC: Yeah, so you know. Art is right, from a scientific point of view, most of it is all speculative. But I'm perfectly willing, I'm one of these people maybe a little bit like, unlike Art who is willing to say okay well let's just put aside this, a little bit of this ivory tower attitude, take off our pointed hats, put them over to the side and just ask ourselves what do we think intuitively, with our expertise, and just as a common sense thinking individual, what do we think is going on? We know they have exquisite abilities¿
43:58 slightly fuzzy sound in background
44:00 CC: ¿from everything we can find out about them exquisite abilities to produce and hear sounds. They are low frequency animals, low frequency noise, all the stuff that we generate which is persistent has been growing at the rate of about, it's been about doubling every decade. So their world since the end of World War II, the continental slope of the United States, the habitat on which we live, our fisheries and everything else live, that world, the noise level has increased by about two orders of magnitude.
44:36 JN: Tell our listeners what two orders of magnitude means
44:40 CC: Okay, so what's two orders of magnitude?
44:41 fuzzy sound stops
44:42 CC: Two orders of magnitude is going from midnight lying in your bed when there's nothing going on and you can hear the blood going through your ears, right? To the noise in your kitchen you know when the refrigerator's on and the doors are slamming and all that kind of stuff, the radio's on, that's one set. Or going from that noise which you wouldn't find particularly offensive, I mean that's just the hubbub of a morning life, suddenly you're now at the airport and you're walking across a tarmac and there's a plane fifty feet away from you with its jet engines on and you can't hear the person who's standing next to you talking. Right. So those are the scales that it's going over, just, it's going from being able to talk at a normal pace in a normal range to suddenly you're in a discotheque, and you know what¿
45:38 JN: A bad one
45:40 CC: We'll put up with a lot of things in a discotheque, it's noisy, and after a while your throat gets a little raspy because you're having to talk really, really loudly, and you're really tired of hearing. And there's no way I could hear Jessica who's sitting there you know 8 feet away, and she'd be talking to me and all I'd be seeing is her lips moving. So, you know, okay, is this gonna have an impact, well if I'm counting on you or her or somebody, not just seeing my lips moving but being able to hear what I'm having to say in order to find food, in order to find a mate, all these basic things about survival and you know continuing to live, if those have all been stripped away, what have we got left?
46:27 JN: Right
46:29 CC: Now I can't prove this in my lifetime because these animals, they don't procreate, they don't breed fast enough. and they're having a hard enough time finding each other to breed as it is.
46:37 JN: Well do you think that is one of the effects of the noise?
46:44 CC: I definitely think it could be one of the effects of the noise.
46:45 JN: Now how would that work?
46:46 CC: Well, you've got a relatively small population of animals, say it's now 100 years ago, I don't know what it was, maybe they think it was 1,000 animals, I mean we weren't killing them directly you know 100 years ago. But there's some population, they're distributed over this huge expanse of ocean. And they have traditions and the traditions are oh well let's go to the Gulf of Maine, this time of year when the sun's this high in the sky and you know the wind blows this way and the noise sounds like it's coming from Iceland, we're gonna go to the Gulf of Maine. And we go there and we'll probably find some friends and we'll find some parties and we'll find you know lovers and things will be fine. But that's distributed over a fairly large area. Now suddenly, the world gets really foggy, and it's persistently foggy and smoggy and polluted and suddenly I can only hear out to my nearest neighbors maybe only five miles, not fifty miles any more. And remember that the area over which I communicate actually goes proportionally as the square of this distance, right, so it's a circle, it's not just a radius it's a circle. So suddenly if I cant hear, I can only hear now to five miles, that's as opposed to fifty miles, that's 100 fold decrease, so suddenly my world has gone down to 1 percent of what it was before. Did I get that right?
48:12 JN: So a lot fewer parties that you go to and a lot fewer¿
48:17 CC: So suddenly, say if it's a female who's making the choices right, she, in right whales the way it works is the females scream, they basically have a song, they have a very crude form of song like an elephant does. They arouse males and they bring males into an area to compete for, for her, you know, what do I wanna say, to compete with her to breed, no sorry, to compete to breed with her. So, suddenly she cant reach that many animals anymore, what does that mean? Or what if animals need to contact each other over these ranges in order to make a decision about whether to go left or right or forward. So when your changes are suddenly shrunk, it could very well have an impact on your breeding. Now if you compound that with other factors which are showing up in their world, their habitat has been fragmented, we know that.
49:15 So you've cut up their habitat into lots of little places you've shrunk their ability to communicate by at least two orders of magnitude, so it's gone from you know 100 down to 10 down to 1. and now you're saying well okay, is that going to have an impact on their population? Well in 100 years, it will have an impact, but it's really a, it's a slow insidious decline in their population because they're long lived, they breed infrequently. So, it's not like killing a population of rodents or something like that, it's just slow, slow, slow. I don't know if I, if that's convincing enough.
49:56 JN: I understand. No the thing, I can't, I mean so I would imagine that as you, or maybe that's not it. Because you don't have a baseline, or maybe you do. It's hard to know what they did before. Right, um.
50:10 CC: Well, we can go to South America and look at what they do.
50:12 JN: Okay
50:13 CC: You know, we can use other populations off Africa, Australia, Argentina, they're all healthy and growing like crazy after they were decimated by whaling.
50:23 JN: And that's cause it's, well it, and it is quieter there.
50:30 CC: Well, it's a factor, um¿
50:31 JN: Yeah
50:32 CC: We know there seems to be plenty of food down in South Georgia Islands, there's plenty of crill so it wasn't food that was limiting them. Um, another issue that's arisen that I've mentioned several times is that uh, that's come up is the combination of factors that are negative factors. So you can have forest fragmentation or habitat fragmentation, so suddenly your community is broken up into little chunks instead of being one nice big continuous community it's all cut up into little villages. And then one of the things that's also happening is that you're being slowly poisoned. So, you're now having to contend with toxic loads. And toxins are a stressor, so PCBs and dioxins and DDT, these are all biological, physiological stressors. And there is compelling evidence growing compelling evidence showing that when you have two stressors such as forest fragmentation and a toxic load combining¿
51:36 JN: Right, right.
51:37 CC: You can have massive impact. As opposed to one alone. So now we've got habitat fragmentation, we've got noise pollution, we've got toxic loads, I mean what else could we to do them? We're not actually going out and sticking them with a piece of steel anymore. We're just ruining their lives.
51:57 JN: Death by a thousand cuts.
51:58 CC: Yeah.
51:59 JN: And it could be a food thing, could be something like that. Now I'm gonna let this be the Carlos show after this. But, unless Jess has got other questions that she wants to ask here. But, the thing is alright now, I'm going, I got a story that starts on a boat with a guy that points at a buoy and the buoy's giving you new information and the buoy's a new thing because other people have measured sound probably you've measured lots of sound before. What, what's that stuff supposed to tell you? What's your new gizmo out there gonna do for you that, you know, how's it gonna help you figure out what's bringing the whale down?
52:42 CC: Well you've got a population maybe 300 or 350 animals, right, now many. And they're distributed all over the place. And they're moving all over the place, slow, but steady. Trying to find food, trying to find mates, doing their thing, and here we are, humans, running around in airplanes or boats, or whatever mobile platform we can find, trying to figure out where are they? Right. What are they doing now? Well that gets expensive fast and it can be dangerous. You know people have died in the last year or two flying around in airplanes trying to find right whales. And one of the best ways we have of determining whether there are right whales around is by listening to them. So one of the things I've been doing with Stormy over these last three or four years and also with a woman named Moe Brown who was instrumental in getting this started. Moe said, well put some of your listening things in the bay. So we put some in the bay. And low and behold we heard whales. So when we said okay well we heard whales on this date, when you were flying an airplane did you see any? No. How about this date, well we saw one. And we're going wow we had lots of calls.
54:01 And in fact if we are clever about where we put our little gizmos in the bottom of the ocean, and we know exactly where they are and we know how they are synchronized, I can actually locate where the whale is and track him around the bay. So we start overlaying the tracks and the positions and we're going, wow, there are more whales in here than you typically see. In fact a lot of these whales fly under your visual radar so to speak. So clearly acoustics, if you want a tool to go find them and figure out where they are, a tool that's pretty damn reliable, and once you've built the instrument, it's pretty cheap.
54:43 JN: Or a tool that tells you how to avoid them.
54:45 CC: Yeah, go out and use acoustics. So the first step in all this was the demonstrate that using your ears you can get as good if not better actually a perspective on where they are, relatively how many are there, and are they moving around, what are they doing. So that was the first step. And then the next step was, wow, how can we use this as a monitoring tool. And when you put little gizmos in the bottom of the ocean they sit there for three months, and I come back in your office a year later and say hey man we got some great results. You're going, I needed to know that last year, when I had to make a decision about whether we were gonna do this or do that. And whether I was gonna fly an airplane to look at them or whether we were gonna go fishing there or not.
55:33 JN: And, or you needed it yesterday or three hours ago.
55:35 CC: Right, so this is where we said okay, we got, there are a lot of clever people around. So I went to the ocean engineering group at Wood's Hole and they build buoys and they're smart engineers, and they've done a lot of work on the ocean before. And they said okay, we'll build the box, we'll build the little gizmo that detects right whales because we know how to do that. But we'll work with you, we'll team up with you, and you build the buoy, and you take, here's your list of things to do here's our list of things to do we get together we go out in a boat and put it in. And now, what we're gonna be able to do is provide a website where well it could be Senator Kennedy or it could be Mary Joe in Chadam who wants to go find out are there any whales in the bay. Go to the website, click on an icon and bingo, we'll give them a report. So, the cool thing is, it's working.
56:37 JN: Right, or captain Bob with the super tanker.
56:40 CC: Yeah, all that stuff. So it's basically the same kind of system, hopefully it's information that people can use as they see fit. Just as you go to the weather, you go to the NOA (?) website and you find out about the weather.
56:52 JN: Right.
56:50 CC: Or you go to next rad radar and you find out is it raining here or what's going on. Well, and these buoys provide more than just is there a right whale there. That's what, that's driving it right now. But you'll get an imagine which actually shows you a picture in color that is a graphic display of what the acoustic environment has been for the last four hours or for the last 24 hours. And so it lets you see the ebb and flow of that acoustic world just like you might say well tell me the temperature, well I'm going to tell you what the acoustic temperature is in that place. And then by having enough of these things you basically paint a picture for a whole habitat.
57:32 JN: I'm learning so much it's like coming out my ears, I wanna just cover them up and¿
57:38 CC: So you get the¿
57:39 JN: I get what you're talking about there, you know. and well what's your dream here if you could just, if you could, if I could give you whatever gizmo you wanted¿
57:50 talking in background
57:58 door closes
58:02 JN: Well, you know I heard in the 60s they were, well they were getting for instance with ¿(?)¿.or getting towards almost real time tracking, doesn't keep them from getting shot out of oak trees by drunks, but well you know that was the one. That was the one that they had the most sophisticated tag on.
58:19 CC: Oh no, was it really?
58:20 JN: Yeah, AC8. Um, I mean would you, what would be your dream, would it be to have a real time thing where you just, you knew where they were, at least in the bay or you know.
58:33 CC: Oh gosh.
58:34 JN: It could be a modest dream, laughing.
58:36 CC: Then I get philosophical.
58:39 JN: Yeah, and it has to do with right whales and sound okay, it cant be 40 nubian maidens, or I don't know laughing, I don't even know what that word means, actually just realized what it means.
58:51 CC: Well, the uh, well you have to take one step at a time. Some of it is strongly educational, if we can, if more people can become aware of what is happening in the acoustic environment, especially of our coast lines, these are our state waters, these are our federal waters, these are our national waters. And realize that these acoustic levels in some cases are getting so high that they would be considered chronic. And by that I mean, if you're a worker in a, a, well what would be like a textile mill, or you're a worker in a car factory, or anyplace where there's a lot of noise from the machinery you're using. We have standards in this country, you know they're regulated, I'll get it mixed up, but there are OSHA (?) standards in this company, there are OSHA standards in this country.
59:49 JN: For noise.
59:50 CC: It's a, you should put headphones on, you should protect your hearing if the sound levels are this high in the environment in which you work. We want you to have a job, but we also need you to be protected from losing your hearing. There are now places along the coast of the United States, mostly all of them off of the large cities, where the shipping traffic comes in and out, where the sound levels are so persistently high that they'd be considered chronic. So you wouldn't put your friends and relatives in that environment and ask them to stay there eight hours a day, day after day, because they'd eventually lose their hearing. Now, in the marine habitat, we don't know of any deaf animals. They all pay attention to sound because it's such a great way to pay attention to your environment, to find mates, to find food, all those things, right.
1:00:42 So everybody's listening out there and what we're doing is we're just putting this chronic load of sound into their environment. So it's not just whales that are getting it, it's fish, it's seals, it's diving birds, it's everything. I don't think it's clams, but you know, it's a lot. So just to educate people that this is a potential problem. Maybe it's not the canary in the coal mine, but it's, it's a, an insult that we're leveling on this whole habitat all the way from you know Miami Beach to Halifax, you name it. The whole place is just aglow with the noise coming off of our civilization. That would be one step, is to educate people. And one, I know a profound experience that would really bring it home would be if you could take an area, say Boston Harbor or Cape Cod Bay or you know Massachusetts Bay, and have a, a ship out. Just have no boats, and just listen to the world, the difference in the world between a day when there's no traffic and there is traffic. And then just imagine what that'd be like if we could just quiet it a little bit. Could we quiet it just a little bit and could we put some kind of restrictions on ourselves about how we behave with these engines in the water, that would be breakthrough.
1:02:08 Now of course, if you want me to get philosophical about it, it's really, you're gonna have to change human behavior. And from all the things I've seen in my short lifetime it's gonna be really hard to change human behavior when it comes to recreation, food, making a living, breeding all these kinds of things. So unless you know, unless something dramatic happens, which I don't believe, I'm not gonna bet on that one. We're not gonna see the world go back to the way it was 100 years ago.
1:02:40 JN: Yeah but as your daughter would tell your daughter would tell you in conservation biology it is necessary to be optimistic. And so um¿
1:02:46 CC: You gotta keep trying.
1:02:47 JN: No, I mean look you could, as you learn more about what level of noise is too much noise, I know from my upbringing that people who try to control traffic jams in LA, they tell you a 3% reduction in traffic flow and a little bit of an organization in terms of what drives around when can work wonders. Can make a miraculous difference in terms of there not being an chronicness, if chronicness in that case is bumper to bumper traffic not going anywhere. But you know so you could¿
1:03:26 CC: Right, and everybody going¿
1:03:27 JN: You know there are possibilities. You know, so¿
1:03:30 CC: So it's early, we're just, basically this is all just starting.
1:03:33 JN: And that's the problem with all these species right you know, I am so sick of doing stories about species that are about to go, and I don't really mean it that way, but scientists racing to come up with I don't want to say the data points but to figure out what's going on before it's too late you know. to know at least what's bringing them down before they're gone.
1:03:58 CC: Yeah.
1:03:59 JN: That's got to be an incredibly frustrating thing I mean it's really¿(?)¿is that the word?
1:04:04 CC: It is this balance between okay so am I gonna be the one that's gong to describe the last day of the last right whale, or am I gonna actually do something different with my energy and my motivation instead of studying it to death well maybe you have to become a little more radical and say well I'm not gonna look at this as an academic exercise, this is really a conservation exercise and we have to we have to garner the support of the public at large. You can just have you know ten academics sitting in a room exchanging papers and think you're gonna solve the problem. It's larger than that. And it's the whole environment that we are talking about here from Maine all the way to Florida. This habitat is being influenced and it's critical to the economic viability of the states that are bordering the coast as well as just the health of the ocean system.
1:05:00 JN: Right, I mean it's in the interest of the people making the noise to make less of it. Yeah. Um¿
1:05:06 CC: So you want to see some pictures?
1:05:07 JN: I want to make one last yeah I know I said this six times now, this is my final bonus last idea here you know, because you've just been such a good boy, okay.
1:05:18 CC: Uhoh.
1:05:19 JN: You're from a Wellfleet, but you've been around the world listening to whales you've listened to all kinds, you've listened to all sounds whales make everywhere they make them. I bet you the right whale is the whale that you think of as your whale.
1:05:32 CC: Once I did. Um, I used to even you know project my um, you know first person singular pronouns if you will onto let's mine or I or even we you know uh we gave them names we introduced ourselves to them from boats and all that kind of stuff and oh yeah these are the whales that we study and these are our whales. Um, but I don't know whether it's a sign of aging or what but I've become less inclined to say well these are my whales. Um I do try a lot to project myself into the mind of a whale, and that's more of the reverse, well is there some way that I could figure out what, what you're thinking and how, what your world is like.
1:06:31 I know what you look like from the outside and I have an idea of what your voice is like. And I try and imagine what it must be like to live in this world that I listen to all the time. So I know what the bay sounds like, I know what it sounds like to be in Province town harbor versus off the canal. And so I can imagine all that.
1:06:47 JN: You close your eyes and you're swimming around out there.
1:06:48 CC: Yeah and I can just hear and go alright¿
1:06:52 JN: You do that all the time don't you?
1:06:53 CC: Yeah, I'm in the beach, yeah and over there¿
1:06:55 JN: Put the headphones on and you're just out there.
1:06:56 CC: Yeah. And uh so in that sense¿
1:07:00 JN: And what form of mescal and uh...laughing¿I'm sorry, didn't mean to interrupt you
1:07:04 CC: Oh he's trying to get me on that one.
1:07:06 JN: No I'm not, no, no. I'm not, I broke your train of thought I'm sorry. It's just that whales gonna be, of all the whales, and all the cheap gin joints in all the world, you know this is the one that's gonna hurt the most in the world, for you personally.
1:07:23 CC: Oh yeah, and uh well since I was weaned on the Southern population which is very very healthy. And I've been so heretical as to suggest well why don't you just go down there and you know bring up a bunch and yeah they're not the same species according to someone who's reading you know genetic tea leaves. How really heretical is to say well if we could get another 1000 up here, or three hundred up here or something, we might be able to at least revive this population somewhat. Oh yes we'd have a, what do you call it, a mongrel population because we'd brought some in from Argentina, but it's like well what kind of, that's a really interesting ethical conversation but do you want them to be around here or not. You know.
1:08:18 So I'm, I'm, I am uh, I don't think I'm even cautiously optimistic about Northern Right Whales in the long run. Because they're going, they're running North-South on their migratory routes and east-west the traffic is going east-west. And unlike deer, we cant put fences on the sides of these roads. These ships and these whale are colliding. And they don't give birth often enough to sustain this. And the amount of lines that we have in the water to catch the fish and the lobster and all the things that we like to eat. You know I don't know what it was like when you were there the other day but if you go up the Cape all the way from Rhode Island all the way up to Maine and you look at the hundreds of thousands of lobster puts and the hundreds of thousands of miles of line in the water, it's a wonder that anything survives.
1:09:20 JN: Yeah, it's just the thought of these whales migrating up and down along the coast through all of these lanes of traffic in a way that, well it's just like crossing ten or twelve inner state freeways everyday on foot, on your way to work. Sooner or later, one of them is gonna get you.
1:09:42 CC: Except, and these guys don't have any, there's no intelligence, there's no reason why. First of all they can't see the car they hear it. And they're, so they're crossing blind and as far as in their whole lifestyle they just keep walking. And it's only when the car is a couple of yards away they might flinch. And by that time it's too late.
1:10:04 JN: So we've gotta get out of there way.
1:10:05 CC: So you're playing the odds, now only, there are only, not all 300 of them go up and down the coast, maybe only 100 of them go. And the ships are going like this, so yeah they're smart people who run the models and say well yeah the probability of them hitting is small. But heck how many collisions did we have last year, half a dozen or something. That's a lot. There's a lot of travel.
1:10:26 JN: We lost a bunch this year, yeah.
1:10:27 CC: And it just, and there's a lot of traffic and it just keeps going.
1:10:33 JN: Okay, I would like to present you with Carlos, the engineer.
1:10:37 JG: I have a couple questions.
1:10:38 JN: Okay
1:10:39 JG: Thank you. I realize this is long but um, you talked to me on the phone about how the right whale is really emblematic of the decline of whale species and using your sound recordings to portray that. I mean, I know the proximity of, it seems like Cape Cod Bay has all these things to offer, it's a small ground, it's close enough to you. But when you go all over the world, what has drawn you to this and why um, is there something in particular about the right whale that your sound recordings you think will help us understand with them.
1:11:15 CC: Well the, it's hard always to come up with a good analytical explanation of why one does things.
1:11:24 JG: It doesn't have to be analytical.
1:11:25 CC: But, you know, I was born on the Cape, I ran around on the salt marshes all my life. You know, sailed all over the bay, whales were pointed out to me by my grandfather and you know my godfather was you know one of the great fisherman up there. And I saw pictures, I heard stories, but to me it was just, I mean it was like the herring run. It was just part of the life. And I never thought well this is something that I'm going to end up doing anything about. And then I go away, end up going through this whole sort of academic pedigree and going and doing a PhD and working on right whales in South America in just this idyllic spot. It's just like Cape Cod bay, except there's nobody living on the peninsula except a couple of sheep ranchers. And the whales are all over the place, and there are high cliffs, and you stand on the cliffs and you look out and there are whales. And this is what I did, my wife and I lived for two years in a tent.
1:12:27 Um, and so then I come back to the Cape meet Stormy, start talking to him, meet Moe, start talking to people and realize Oh, there're whales in the bay, there're right whales in the bay this is amazing. And then suddenly thanks to the you know profound efforts of people like Scott Krauss and the New England aquarium and Stormy and people who put their heart and soul into this issue of right whales, Amy Nolton. There are people who have spent their entire lives almost just dedicated to this species. So I'm a latecomer to this scene up here but I came into because I had the tools and the resources and I said I think I can help. And to me it's an emotional, it's an emotional release to know that I can actually contribute something and maybe make a difference. So it's all tied up and it's, to me it's, I don't know, I don't know if it's zen or what but some of these things have just been profoundly, I wouldn't stay rewarding because the reward has been like okay the sound shows up on my desktop and we've got right whales in the bay.
1:13:38 The reward as John was sort of querying me was wow, something's happening that's better. You know the whales have a haven somewhere where they can go and they can be undisturbed and they can procreate and they can feed and, we're giving them a chance. Because basically what we're trying to do is we're trying to buy time. We're trying to buy time, we're trying to hold back civilization and all its needs and its consumptive behavior just a little bit longer to give these animals a little more time. And if we can give them a little more time maybe they'll make it into the next century. You see what I'm saying? And so it's if I can, if I can make a difference, that is so much more rewarding than getting out you know ten science papers. Because it's actually like wow I did something. You know.
1:14:32 JG: So you, these guys are, these right whales are really in your psyche. I mean you said you were dreaming about them and they are part of you.
1:14:45 CC: Oh yeah, yeah. I've had dreams where I've been had a right whale on my lap you know and I'm sitting there talking to it. And I'm okay now last week when I saw you and you were doing this, what were you thinking, what were you trying to do. It's weird, but that's the kind of scene that happens. And I know I'm not alone in this I know there are other characters like me that have gone through this.
1:15:11 JN: Well what did it say? "mmmmoo"
1:15:12 CC: It wouldn't say to me anything, you know just sort of yeah, moo, come back next year. But uh, so I have an answer for you about why we wouldn't, I wouldn't have any detections on hear if you were watching a surface active group. Because the surface active group sounds are not the contact calls. Sometimes they make contact calls in surface active groups but typically they're raucous screamy kind of "eerrrr, aarrr, eerrr" And our detectors are not trained on those, they're listening for the contact calls, so we would ignore them. Now we'd have them on the pop ups, but that doesn't do you any good if we're trying to say use every trick in the book. So the next stage is once we've proved that we can get this all working with a contact call we could be sending back more. In fact so much is happening so fast in technology because you realize what we're doing here. We are parasitizing all the technology that we could possibly get our hands on. Cell phones, the electronic chips that we're using have primarily been developed, they're low power, high capacity electronics that are primarily developed for human communication and mostly cell phone communication. And we've got smart people here from you know the Cornell engineering Brethren. And they take those things and they package them into something that I can say I'm gonna make this work for a right whale. So the things are getting cleverer and cleverer all the time. So in the time, in the two years since we put this proposal in the electronics and the technology has changed so much that we're now, we're now probably going to be able to send back all the data from that unit every four hours.
1:17:00 And we can do it over a cell phone. Whereas two years ago that wasn't possible. So I wont have to sit out there have a little clever electronics package out there on the buoy trying to figure out is that a right whale, is that not a right whale. It'll send it all back. And then we can use the big powerful machines back here where we have lots of electricity and time and do it. It's just, it's mind blowing what the capabilities are and one of the things that we do here with out talent an our lives is we basically try and coop technology to study the natural world and to listen to the natural world. So we have balloons that fly over remote jungle habitat with whole sets of microphones listening oops, listening for that remote parrot or that you know endangered this that or the other thing. And it's fabulously motivating to do that because you realize wow, this is really cool, this is really fun to do and we might be making a difference.
1:18:08 JG: And on the topic of using various technology and this doesn't relate so much to right whales but using sonar and working with the navy facilities, can you just tell us a little bit about some of that work that you've been doing in England.
1:18:26 CC: Oh yes, well that's not, we're gonna, I hope that's gonna happen.
1:18:31 JG: We hope so to, but since we have you here now. I mean just, I mean it relates to this in a sense because it's listening to the oceans. I mean I would think you care about those whales as much as you care about the right whales but yet, it's hard.
1:18:44 Well the thing that I think I've probably explained it to you at least over the phone John, the thing that is so profound for me having access to these Navy listening stations, which are able, or provide you with a vista into an entire ocean basin from a single position, so I can sit at a work station and have access to an enormous array of sensors, is that it allows, you change the scale over which your mind works. So just as I know that if I had grown up on Cape Cod and lived in Wellfleet all my life, and then maybe ventured to Provincetown in the summer maybe gone to Boston a couple of times to see a Red Sox game, you know once a summer, and the rest of my life was spent in Wellfleet, I would have a very different perspective on where I am in the world and what's going on in the world than if I'd had this marvelous life where I've been allowed, I've been encouraged to go everywhere and listen to everything.
1:19:54 So suddenly you're listening to the entire Atlantic Ocean, and I'd have the ability and the opportunity to zoom into something like Cape Cod bay which is, on the maps that I'm working on with the Navy, is a dot, right. It's the size of a circle that is trying to demark you know one little sensor right. And yet I know that I can work within that domain and follow individuals around on a minute by minute basis and ask questions about what are they doing now and why are they doing it. And then you can back out and you can be in a satellite looking down over the entire ocean and you can zoom into different parts of the ocean and you can say oh, what's going on over here, oh wow I have a blue whale off of Spain.
1:20:33 And look, if I listen off Labrador I can hear a whale that's off Bermuda. And it's, when you move in between those scales you realize these animals live in a very different world than I do. Because it's not just my toys that are allowing me to say, this is happening. It's happening, these animals have voices that can travel huge distances in the ocean. And their time scales are totally different than yours and mine. We're fast little mosquitoes. We're just flies buzzing all over the place. These animals, their metronome ticks once every two minutes kind of thing. That's, their world is really, really slow, so you have to change your time scale and you have to chance your spatial scales to get a sense of what is this ocean world all about.
1:21:30 Sound travels, it takes time to get from once place to another just like it takes time for a message to come back from the Mars rover to the United States, or some you know, Ascension Island kind of listening station with a very low power output out of that little robot running around on Mars, we're getting all kinds of information. Well the whales are doing the same thing and it takes time for that message to get from one place to another. So for every fifty miles of ocean that that sound travels in it's one minute of time. 50 miles, 1 minute, so you think okay, I'm over here, I'm 1000 miles away, that's 20 minutes, these animals have to be patient. It's not like flipper the dolphin where everything's "rerererere" like this.
1:22:17 It's like "mmmmmmmmooooommmooommoo" and then you gotta wait. And you gotta wait for it to get over there. And you gotta wait for that guy to think about it. And maybe turn around a message. So when we're asking about oh can I demonstrate communication between two blue whales that are hundreds of miles apart, wow that's tough. Because they don't just turn around and say oh yeah over here buddy. It might take them a day before they figure out that's what they wanna do and they'll make a call back. So it's that whole sense of they are mellow, they're time is just all spread out and their space is all spread out. You watch a whale swim from Iceland down to Bermuda, they just set a course they go 2 and a half knots, and they go from one seamount to another, right.
1:23:19 So it takes them two weeks, you and I, we wanna be there tomorrow, we wanna be there this afternoon. Damn why isn't there another flight, you know out in fifteen minutes. Their world is totally different. And somehow in that world their, they can find food better than any oceanographer. You ask any oceanographer, ask stormy, if I wanna find food what do I do? You go find the whales. They're uncanny, how do they do it? We don't know. so the world that I get, I'm allowed to look into with the navy system, it's so broad that it's given me a perspective on this world of their lives which to me is, is um invaluable. And it lets me take this little world of a bay called Cape Cod, or the little world of a bay called the bay of fundi, or you know Gulf of San Jose in Argentina and say wow that's just one little microscopic point in their lives. It's the difference between saying looking out at your bird feeder and saying oh those are my cardinals.
1:24:29 They're not your cardinals. They might be at your bird feeder for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But they're spending most of their lives somewhere else, probably not even the United States. And so it just lets you back up and let go of some of that sort of possessive kind of I've figured it out and I'm important kind of attitude and just say let it go, let them tell you what the message is. Make sense?
1:24:53 JG: Yeah, no it does make sense. I was thinking while you were making those whale calls that you sounded a lot like a monk, and you keep on referring to them as very slow and Zen like. They are, I mean do their calls sound like some kind of singing or chanting to you?
1:25:08 CC: Oh absolutely the specially, a blue whale, you know this is the lowest voice of a marine animal that we know. The blue whales are rivaled by the forest African elephants. The forest African elephants probably have the lowest voices of any animal on earth. Down to 12 hertz these are things that you and I couldn't even hear if we had the best ears as a baby. Right. They're just really really low. But yeah think of this, one note in a blue whale song can last 20 seconds. That's just one note. Now when you go out your back door and you listen to a robin or a blue jay or a song sparrow or you know whatever it is. They're putting 20 notes in 2 seconds. These animals, it's very slow. 20 seconds, okay so 20 seconds of water time for every second it travels fifteen hundred meters. So you've got to think about this thing stretched out. This sound is stretched out in the water.
1:26:18 Okay let me think about this, so it's 20 seconds, so it's 30 kilometers, so 20 miles basically. So this thing is stretched out over 20 miles in the water. And then the animal waits. It waits 70 seconds and then it sings its next note. So the song is going on and on and on for hours. The only way you and I can every appreciate it is by speeding it up. When I first heard a chorus of blue whales, I thought there was something wrong with my Nagra tape recorder. Because I was listening to it without doing any tricks. And all I heard was a hum and I thought I had an electrical problem. Because there was a collective hum and I couldn't the pitch changes even though their voices are changing pitch, they're changing pitch so subtly that my ears can't perceive it. It was only when I sped it up, I raised it up on a pedestal and I listened to it that I said oh, instead of it's this "mmmmmmmmmm" and then if everybody in the room just did that we'd have this chorus of "mmmmmmmmm" You speed it up and it's "oooo oooo oooo ooo" and then you hear all of them and they're all just chanting all together.
1:27:50 You're realizing oh my gosh. It's miraculous. But it wasn't until I listened to it and I, until I listened to it fast, then I went back to what it really was like that what you hear is this drone. It's this collective drone. And this is the drone that will travel enormous distances in the ocean. And what you would imagine hearing, if there was a collection of these animals singing of Newfoundland, say off the grand banks, where there are enormous collections of food and we were, you know coming up from Puerto Rico or Bermuda or something like that. You wouldn't hear the individual voices, what you would see you would see the collective glow of all these voices. Just the same kind of thing that you would hear when you're far away from¿? the spring. What you're gonna hear is you're not gonna hear the individual voices. You'll hear all that "dedede" all the collective glow of all these things and you can aim for it. You can just say that's where I'm going because that's where the party is. And this is what you see when you back up and you use the navy system and you look to see where the energy is distributed. Instead of trying to look for individual voices what you can do is just look at collections, you see populations of animals. And you see them, you see populations of animals and it's just, it's their singing. The ocean is singing with their voices.
1:29:12 JG: And it seems like you're getting a lot of support from the navy and you're getting support from various government institutions to fund everything from that work to even the right whale work.
1:29:28 CC: Well funding is probably too generous a word and I, don't put this on the air, uh, what I'm receiving is the opportunity. The navy is being incredibly generous to give some of us the opportunity to use these systems to listen for these animals. Um, and you know government funding comes and goes. Sometimes it's a good year sometimes it's not such a good year. And one of the things that's important is you know as a, oops, as a human, as a scientist, is to try and find that balance between okay so how much energy of mine do I devote to okay I'm just gonna do the science, versus there's a message here that I want everybody to hear.
1:30:15 Which is so wonderful about what you guys are doing because you allow me to have a voice through you to say well maybe we can reach instead of 30 school kids in my wife's fifth grade class room or you know 20 or 100 um sophomores down on campus in the oceanography class. Maybe we can reach tens of thousands of people and then suddenly you know I have people walk up to me and say wow I heard that story about such and such is it really true? And you're going, great, something got through. And I don't care if you remember whether it was right whale or a blue whale or a pink whale or a green whale. You know something connected with you about the ocean and noise and that these animals deserve a chance.
1:30:55 The funding thing is yeah you know I have to play all the games, and the navy culture is such that they change commanders all the time it's like lion prides. You know they come in they kill all the babies they re-impregnate all the women, it lasts for two years then someone else comes in a wipes them all out again. And then you've got to re-educate them, and the guy says well what are you doing here, you're that whale hugger right. And you're going yeah okay I'm the whale hugger. And basically I'm trying to say well the more you know about your environment, the more you know about your environment. Right? And uh, so I don't know if you've, have you talked to Chuck Agnan?
1:31:35 JN: No
1:31:36 CC: Oh, you've got to¿
1:31:39 JG: I have, I have talked with him yeah.
1:31:40 CC: Yeah, he's fantastic he's a wealth of information, you know he's the Jonesy in hunt for October he's the Jonesy
1:31:47 JN: Oh yeah
1:31:48 CC: He's the Jonesy of the IOSS system.
1:31:50 JG: We're, he's our letter in.
1:31:53 CC: Yeah yeah, he's the one that I rely on Chuck to give me okay so who do we talk to down there get it into the people down at Dam Neck or whatever it is. You know all that kind of stuff.
1:32:02 JG: Um, Carlos how are you doing with tapes and stuff like that? Do you need to rest your arm?
1:32:10 CG: Yeah it's up to you, I've got half an hour on this tape.
1:32:11 JG: John, I'd like um, I'd like if possible if you could just show us this map, just show us where some of your things are and tell us what you're looking at. And then maybe we can plug into the computer system.
1:32:22 CC: Yeah, you know I kept thinking, yes absolutely. And this is not question, but I just kept thinking of that when you were banging on right over here, it's coming down here I'm thinking of that Steven Spielberg movie with Gene Hackman, you know the conversationalist or the where he's a sound expert and he goes crazy in the end of the movie and he ends up tearing it up, his entire house with this bug.
1:32:44 JN: Oh yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yes, yes, yeah what was that?
1:32:47 CC: That's a great movie, the con, uh, ah¿
1:32:52 JN: Is it something conspiracy?
1:32:53 CC: No it's the conversationalist or the yeah, anyway, I thought that was very cool. You know, nobody would have noticed that but you, ah there's a sound coming down the window frame! You know! I can't work with that.
1:33:10 JG: Anyway maybe could you just show John the map there.
1:33:13 CG: I need to uh get ambi for the interview.
1:33:14 JG: Oh yeah let's get some ambi here before we.
1:33:16 JN: Everything changes, we don't have to tell you about sound. Right?
1:33:21 JG: We just need a minute of ambi right here.
1:33:23 shuffling, talking about minute
1:33:37 ambi
1:34:26 CG: That should be good.
1:34:27 CC: I heard the air conditioner, the clock, the fan, the lights, and a conversation down the hall.
1:34:37 JN: There you go.
1:34:39 shuffling
1:34:40 CC: You alright Jessica? You look a little fetutzed.
1:34:41 JG: No, no, no I just, I had one other question but you can.
1:34:45 sound only in left side
1:34:55 chatting about books
1:35:12 JG: Oh there's a book coming out on condors.
1:35:15 JN: Oh yeah?
1:35:16 CC: Yeah it's about the life and times of the California condor
1:35:20 sound fades
1:35:21 CC: ¿but actually it's a proxy history of California. And I grew up, you know my Wellfleet, is um¿
1:35:26 FX
1:35:27 CC: ¿.is a town called Pyru. At the base of the Transverse mountains, near the Sesby tundra sanctuary where as I explained, and this is literally true, the Mexican kids all told me that condors ate gringos who stopped walking.
1:35:41 JG: Carlos, if we could get some, just some, make sure we get sitting in front of the computer, just some clicking and whatever, clicking to access the sound files. Actually if you could¿
1:35:56 CG: Back in MS
1:35:57 JG: ¿tell us what you're doing while you're doing, Carlos isn't rolling yet.
1:36:00 FX
1:36:01 JG: Are you on?
1:36:02 CG: I'm on
1:36:04 CC: Okay well let's just go and see what the buoy dropped in on us while we were talking here.
1:36:10 clicking
1:36:13 CC: So we just, it's very simple we have different folders named by the different buoys so we go to buoy A, and here is, here are the top ten clips but I get they're not likely, we haven't seen any, heard any right whales in the last ten hours or so. So these are just sounds that it clipped out as these are the best things that I've received in the last uh four hours. And if you play it it's gonna just be the sound of water washing over the hydrophone or banging around on the buoy. But if you go back a day, you know then you see oh okay look there're a whole bunch of sounds, and grab a few here and just play them.
1:37:03 clicking
1:37:04 whale sounds
1:37:22 JN: What's that cricket sound in there. You hear that? The "mmmmoo" then the "eheh"
1:37:29 CC: Oh, that could just be the banging on the, this
1:37:32 whale sounds
1:37:37 JN: Didn't hear it that time
1:37:38 JG: So, what's this guy saying to him?
1:37:42 CC: What's he saying? Hey baby laughing, uh, no I think these are, these are just contact calls, these are typically indicative of um, an animal basically reaching out trying to call somebody.
1:37:55 JN: Marco, polo.
1:37:56 CC: And here you can see here are some that are coming in, these are fainter. Uh, you may not even be able to hear these although the, from the image processing, sorry from the sound processing we can actually uh I'll play them but yeah they're really faint.
1:38:14 faint whale sounds, chirping sound
1:38:23 CC: Really, really faint. Now those sounds, what's also cool about these buoys is that I can actually hear the same whale on the different buoys. So the next step that we're going to be implanting is where we can actually use that arrival to triangulate. So I can tell someone oh we've got whales over off sandwich or we've got them off Ray's point. Not just we've got them in the bay but where they are in the bay. The idea of course being that that is more information for, in general, or for someone who's got to make a decision about oh gosh, now we know where they are, uh, should we be doing something that can help protect them a little bit more.
1:39:03 JN: How long have these buoys been up and running the ones that give you every two hours?
1:39:06 CC: Oh these, well we've put some out, we put them out in October, they got hammered, and there was a storm just before Christmas it was on the 23rd, they got a lot of ice build up so they all went down by the end of January they all failed, so we've tried twice to go out there and rescue them and rebuild them, but we, this only happened last week. So it wasn't until last Friday that we were able finally to go out.
1:39:34 JN: Yeah until last Friday they were out there banging metal to get the ice off the thing.
1:39:40 CC: Yeah, so resuscitating to get them all back up and working. And, the fun part was within hours, now here we knew there were whales in the bay. So, within hours bang we had calls.
1:39:49 JN: Bet that was a good feeling.
1:39:50 CC: In fact uh, I just went through a made a little table here from the data from last weekend.
1:39:55 papers shuffling
1:39:59 CC: Here, so we're looking at the first, so that's Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and here are the three units.
1:40:07 JN: The buoys.
1:40:09 CC: And the units are, the buoys, yeah. So the buoys are this buoy here, the E buoy, and then there's the A buoy, and the C buoy. So you were, yesterday with Stormy you were looking at this guy I think.
1:40:24 JN: Right the one up close to the hook.
1:40:24 CC: Right, and you could go look back¿
1:40:28 JN: Where you find Provincetown, and they're all in the bay.
1:40:29 CC: They're all in the bay. And so, uh, you know yesterday we had ten calls in the morning. Well, let's see no that's right, no it was late, they came in probably I don't know what time you guys came in but they were late in the afternoon into the evening. We had a whole set of ten calls from there. But the highest rates were last Saturday, so that was where we had the highest counts and most of them were down here through the southeast.
1:40:56 JN: And you mean highest counts, meaning what? Most whales, noisiest?
1:41:02 CC: Most, most, the highest number of contact calls. So, on Saturday they were in the south east corner. And then it looks like they shifted up by the time you were there yesterday, most of them were up here off of Provincetown.
1:41:15 JN: Right, nursing.
1:41:16 CC: Yeah, nursing or whatever, so by that point you were now able to, even with this crude little vista we're actually able to start getting some idea of how they're distributed in the bay. And of course Stormy is, we're hoping that the food is gonna build up and the animals are gonna come back in and then we'll have a great big party here with lots of¿
1:41:32 JN: So Stormy comes up with an overlay on this map that shows you where the upwellings are and then you, you put the sound on it and you start to figure things out.
1:41:43 CC: Put them all together, and then they fly the airplane and they say okay this is where they see the whales and then we can get an idea of well okay do you see what we hear? And uh
1:41:53 JN: Yeah, and you figure out that okay plankton, moo, they all congregate. Okay I know what they're doing.
1:42:00 CC: I think you had you saw four mothers and calves.
1:42:04 JN: Three or four.
1:42:05 CC: Yeah, so they saw, when I looked at the report that came in, the aerial survey report they had one mother and calf that they saw. I think that's what it was.
1:42:13 JN: Okay, we saw 11 whales total, we saw at least three mothers and calves, we saw a couple of woopy making episodes and a couple of those grazing things. They just look like giant black heads moving through the water.
1:42:26 CC: Did you see the mouth open?
1:42:27 JN: Yeah just mowing the plankton.
1:42:31 CC: Isn't that amazing?
1:42:34 JN: It is amazing.
1:42:35 papers shuffling
1:42:36 CC: You can feed you know a fifty ton animal off of a little copepod that's the size of a little tiny sesame seed.
1:42:45 JN: Stormy was pointing out that that uh you know if you ever want an answer you know to the question posed by whatever crazy congressman gets up and says "what are we spending money on plankton for!" You know, you show them a picture now. You say well it's a hundred and fifty tons, it's really rare, and you're an idiot.
1:43:07 CC: Yeah, you got to put food into it.
1:43:10 JG: Can we um, can I, can we just get some ambi, just moving this around here, and then just a little bit more on your computer, and then can we figure out a way to get Carlos to get some of those sounds. And do you have oh gosh, do you have other recordings of your, of these right whales that are clearer that we could also have?
1:43:28 sound fades out
1:43:30 sound fades back in
1:43:34 JG: Actually since you're clicking now maybe Carlos can just record that.
1:43:35 clicking
1:43:37 CC: I can click all you want. Okay, huh, where is it. My network places¿
1:43:47 clicking, mumbling
1:43:59 clicking
1:44:08 CC: Okay I will go find out exactly because I had her put together a whole set of right whale sounds. Oh here we are northern right whale analysis, is that it?
1:44:19 clicking
1:44:28 CC: Let me just go ask, we have many tens of kilobytes of data.
1:44:34 door opens
1:44:45 JG: Also I wanna get opening and closing the door and then the map.
1:44:47 CG: Yeah I've gotten some of the map with them talking.
1:44:48 JG: No talking just plain map.
1:44:55 door opens/closes
1:45:02 CG: Would you mind doing it again?
1:45:08 door opens/closes
1:45:25 CG: Wait for him to come back through.
1:45:29 chair moving
1:45:31 quiet, some talking in background
1:46:46 shuffling paper
1:46:56 quiet
1:47:07 FX
1:47:14 knock and door opens and closes
1:47:30 JG: That's fine we just wanted to get you opening and closing the door, actually we just wanna get a couple of the map if you can¿
1:47:41 map shuffles
1:47:42 JG: You know better than that laughing I'll do it, hold on, this will take one second.
1:48:03 map shuffles
1:48:08 CC: Oh you're recording
1:48:09 map shuffles
1:48:30 walking around
1:48:35 CG: Alright.
1:48:36 JN/CC chatting about books he wants to read
1:49:59 getting up, walking out
1:50:02 walking, chatting
1:50:25 CC: Now we can route these I can pick them up on my computer if there's too much noise back here. These are from, oh this is an early one.
1:50:35 sound of machine running, clicking
1:50:57 bell sound
1:50:58 sound of machine running, clicking, talking in background
1:51:07 bell sound
1:51:08 sound of machine running, clicking
1:51:16 CC: This is from 01 so that's the March¿okay¿that's 2002 huh
1:51:26 Woman: 2000, oh yeah it's probably between um.
1:51:34 JG: Do you have this on a CD or?
1:51:35 CC: Uh, we can put it on a CD, I can also just, from my machine I can just run it out into a¿
1:51:47 CG: Plug
1:51:48 CC: Yeah, is that what you have 1/8th inch.
1:51:54 JG: Because there's a lot of stuff going on in here, I think it would be better just to do that.
1:51:55 CC: Yeah, oh there's some nice clear ones. So, what is this, you just grabbed a whole bunch of cuts.
1:52:07 Woman: Yeah
1:52:08 whale sounds
1:52:12 CC: So can you direct me as to which ones like that, this little section is.
1:52:19 Woman: This section here?
1:52:20 CC: It doesn't give us IDs on them but oh you're three minute in.
1:52:27 Woman: Oh, I can, each one of these is an individual sound file right so I can tell you the¿
1:52:33 CC: Right so it's in that folder, is it on Nerius or is it on¿
1:52:36 Woman: It's on Nerius, in the shared folder. Yeah. So um.
1:52:43 CC: Well you know what you do, just copy those copy, and save them to a, just a little temp file and stick them in that, or stick them somewhere.
1:52:56 Woman: Okay, so this particular sequence here? Okay. Alright.
1:53:00 walking, machine sound, talking in background
1:53:15 CC: So one of the cool things is we had um, Ingrid, who's one of the graduate students was down working with¿? of the grand, Turks Caicos silver bank recording humpback whales.
1:53:25 JN: Oh yeah.
1:53:28 CC: So um, she put out a couple popups to record the humpbacks. And one of them obviously broke loose or something, a fisherman calls in a says well I've got this popup and I want my reward because it says 250 bucks reward and that's cool. So we were in the process of getting this unit back and the next morning we got another call, and Cassy takes this call and I hear her struggling on the phone. Like she doesn't understand, well she's obviously speaking to someone who speaks only fluent Spanish. So we got someone so what are you talking about? And then Hanata a gal from Brazil who also speaks Spanish was talking to the fisherman and we hear her saying what number is it? And she's going 40. and I'm going popup 40 that wasn't the one that we had down in the Caribbean where the hell did that come from?
1:54:25 And the story that evolved was that this man had found, this fisherman had found a popup in Samana bay which is in the North side of Puerto Rico, no Dominican Republic, and it was a popup that we had lost two years ago off of Charleston, South Carolina, and it had drifted out in the Gulf Stream and circumnavigated the North Atlantic. And then it¿
1:54:52 JN: Was it working?
1:54:53 CC: No it was done by then. It had probably died two months after we put it in. but Chris just told me now that they opened it up everything's all, all the electronics are fine, everything's fine. And I don't know where it is whether they've cleaned it or not.
1:55:08 walking
1:55:10 CC: Have you guys cleaned up that number 40 already?
1:55:11 Man: Um, yes, I believe that's all¿
1:55:20 CC: Chris said it works.
1:55:21 Man: It mostly seems to work it's got some damage on the¿yeah, it's not a trophy piece yet so it's still a little bit messy.
1:55:27 CC: Oh there it is, here's part of the, here's the case.
1:55:30 walking
1:55:34 CC: So you know it's like unbelievable here's this thing going around all around the Atlantic ocean so we put basically this cool little device. We put an entire system inside a glass sphere. It's got the communications system so we can hang on and communicate from the surface and it's got the recording system um.
1:55:55 JN: And it goes down to the bottom?
1:55:56 CC: Yeah these things can go down 6000 meters before they can go in Cape Cod bay and then just record. And now they're got it so you can just hook it up to your laptop and you program it and you schedule it and do all these things.
1:56:06 JN: Well I have to say it looks like a homemade bomb inside a giant salad bowl. Which is in turn¿
1:56:12 CC: Yeah, well we've gotten a lot of good stuff from south America. You just give a location you say I'm gonna pick it up you know laughing
1:56:20 walking
1:56:22 JG taking picture, laughing, picking something up
1:56:47 talking about the unit
1:56:54 JN: Now here's how much I know about technology, the only thing I know about how this works is don't put your tongue on both ends of the battery at once laughing yeah don't do that. Very cool. Did you just make that up? Or somebody around here just thought oh, let's¿
1:57:14 CC: Well it's evolved over well let's see 97 was the first time we did it.
1:57:17 JN: Yeah
1:57:18 CC: And it came, it grew out of uh, an experience where we needed, we were working on this big project with Scripps and we were told oh you guys got to monitor the whales out in this Pioneer seamount which is 80 kilometers to the west of San Francisco out in the middle of nowhere right. 900 meters deep. And uh so we rented a piece of equipment, you don't want to put this on the air because it will slight Scripps.
1:57:45 JN: Yeah, fine, I've jumped off their pier.
1:57:46 CC: Well, you know so for 52,000 dollars we rented a piece of equipment that was going to go and record for three months on the bottom of the ocean. And they went out and got it back along with the other stuff and the guy calls and says "well, Chris I've got some good news. We got the unit back. But I also have some bad news, it has water in it. So for 52000 dollars we got a quart of salt water and we figured we could build ten of those things for 50000 dollars. And we haven't quiet made that but it's close. And that was the start of this thing. We said okay why don't we just do our own and we'll do it, we'll put everything inside of a sphere. Because when we rented this thing it was a pallet, it was a frame half the size of these two tables.
1:58:30 JN: Right
1:58:31 CC: A metal frame with all kinds of stuff on it you need two technicians, that meant two round trip air tickets and a big ship and an A frame what not. It's like god we wanna have something that I can pick up and throw over the side of a small boat. So that's what they are.
1:58:45 JN: Which part of this listens?
1:58:46 CC: Uh, well it's a combination.
1:58:50 JN: I mean don't you have to have some kind of microphone?
1:58:51 CC: Oh, well that's on the outside. So these things hook up to an external microphone which you can see here. So, here's the, there's microphone right there.
1:59:04 JN: Oh okay.
1:59:05 CC: And this part here is like a hydrophone and this one beeps back. So this is what listens and this is what transmits.
1:59:11 JN: And you need a really long extension cord for this right. Or you need to just hook them together.
1:59:15 CC: And then uh there's a piece of circuitry which is this is the signal condition so this does all your amplification your filtering and your communication and your logic. And this is this is doing the show of uh what goes right here is the hard drive. So we put like a 80 gigabyte hard drive in there and this is controlling all of the formatting and the writing to disk. And uh its basically your little modern tape recorder.
1:59:47 JN: This really is straight out of one of those mission impossible episodes you know it's like well there's a lab somewhere where people make these, and this is it. We someone to listen at the bottom of the ocean to things going by leave it there for a long time and it wont break. Amazing.
2:00:02 CC: And it's cheap, so you know the kinds of equipment that you work with, it's using a lot of the same chip sets only we roll our own and uh do all our own signal conditioning all that kind of stuff.
2:00:14 JN: Cant you do better than taping together batteries, D batteries, I don't mean to phrase that obnoxiously but it just looks a little like there might be some other way.
2:00:25 CC: Well you know undergraduate are¿
2:00:26 JN: Plutonium!
2:0027 CC: You know you can only do so much. Laughing. Well lithium is, we had to give up on lithium they wouldn't let us, we cant ship it.
2:00:35 JN: Oh really?
2:00:36 CC: Yeah, you cant ship it you cant put it on planes you cant put it on trucks, the new rules went in December 31st.
2:00:45 walking, chatting
2:01:10 CC chatting with someone
2:01:20 clicking, talking in background
2:01:30 CC talking with woman finding files
2:01:55 clicking
2:01:58 CC: So we also roll our own when it comes to software so this piece of software you're seeing here which is called raven is something we created and wrote and it allows you do to do all kinds of clever things.
2:02:10 clicking
2:02:15 CC clicking, mumbling
2:02:30 whale sounds, clicking
2:02:41 beep
2:02:43 whale sounds, clicking
2:02:53 clearer whale sounds, chirping
2:03:20 CC: Oh it's rattling the end thing so I could just uh do you wanna just take a bunch of these and we'll just play them right into your, would that work?
2:03:28 FX
2:03:30 CC: Do you have a stick or anything like that?
2:03:37 JG: Could you make a CD?
2:03:38 CC: Sure, yup.
2:03:40 doors, chatting
2:03:50 JG: How are you doing on tapes and?
2:03:53 CC: Well I've got enough tape actually to¿
2:03:55 End

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