Archive for August, 2008

well its been awhile

Summer is almost over, but im finally getting around to editing that final paper a bit more, figure i’d get some these things done before I go start my crazy senior year. Editing also led me to reminiscing about beam reach, and looking at the videos.

 And funny too how I still ended up doing a lit bit of sound work this summer at the zoo- been helping develop a behavioral monitoring program at Brookfield Zoo, and with that you need to collect data on different variables that might effect that behavioral, so hence we’ve been measuring sound levels around the park. Not recording actually, they are called docimeters, and they measure the average dB level each minute, as well as measure the peak sound level of each minute. The devices we use are acutally designed for workers at their jobs the meaure the amount of sound exposure in their work place- here we are using them by hanging them up in trees in fake bird houses, and the most fun one is up in the ceiling of the monkey house- the first time we put it up there the baboons were screaming like crazy before the visitors came in, and as it eerily echoed up to us as we looked down from the opening above them, I have a vision of Dante’s inferno…

 Anyways, the even more fun(!) part is that we get to analyze the data and work on making a database (i.e. me stumbling through access)- and what little we have looked at so far we haven’t found too much of any effect on behavior- but then again the averages we get aren’t changing much- but more analyzing to come for the final presentation in a few weeks, so maybe we’ll get some different results. But then again, no effect isnt a bad thing at all- im pretty sure most zoo animals get used to all the noise, especially with the constant construction here.

 So no hydrophones, but hey at least some acoustics 🙂 i got to ask smart questions like if they are calibrated or if they can measure frequency.

Other than that, been working on my own project investigating how the placement of an observer effects an animal’s behavior, but I also found out that zoo keepers bring special guests to feed the animals im looking at, so that kinda skewed my results a bit – but nevertheless I’m still going on with it, and at the same time I’m now trying to help out the female Grevy Zebra get pregnant- I hope I can get that one to work out.

 Well thats all for now, i suppose this is a bit random, but I thought beam reachers would be happy to learn about some zoo acoustics

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What did Lummi hear?

It was just announced that the oldest southern resident killer whale is believed to have died this year. Lummi (K-7) lived to be about 98 years old and was last seen by Brad Hansen of NOAA/NWFSC on December 23rd. As the Center for Whale Research has surveyed all of K pod multiple times this spring, they are now confident that K-7 died this winter or spring.

The full article in the San Juan Journal got me wondering what Lummi heard in her lifetime. How much did the Puget Soundscape change since her birth in ~1910? The old matriarchs of the other pods, Granny (J-2, born ~1911) and Ocean Sun (L-25, born ~1928), also experienced the rise in anthropogenic noise in the oceans. Born at the end of the age of sail, they listened through two world wars, and persist during the crescendo of global shipping in the era of peak oil.  I wonder if they were hard of hearing in their old age!

Steam engines were becoming more prominent than sail power around 1850-1900.  The steam turbine was patented in 1897 and was initially used to power higher-speed ships.  The diesel engine was patented in 1892 and began being used in vessels, including the Danish freighter Selandia in 1903. The current wikipedia entry for ship says that “Transport of people and cargo on sailing ships continued until the 1920’s.” So, it was a time of transition for marine propulsion systems, and therefore for underwater noise.

Locally, it’s clear that many fishing vessels were becoming motorized about the time that Lummi and Granny were born. An article about the refurbishment of an old halibut schooner by the algal energy company Blue Marble, states that their vessel (the Lituya, re-named the Blue Marble) was “one of the 150 or so motorized halibut schooners built between 1910 and 1932 to work the northern waters off Alaska and Bristol Bay — resting during the off-season in the calm waters of Seattle’s Fisherman’s Terminal.” I assume the same was happening with shipping traffic that transited the Strait of Juan de Fuca…

A quick search isn’t turning up a synopsis of shipping traffic in the Salish Sea over the last century or so. I’ll have to resolve to look for publications that document number and types of ships in Puget Sound historically. It seems my best bet may be to visit the research library associated with the Museum of history and industry. Does the Coast Guard or the Ports keep track of how many of each vessel type have come/gone? What about on the Canadian side of the border? Can we separate traffic transiting south of Vancouver Island with ships transiting the north side?

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