Can people speak whale? JASCO joins BIO to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Gully Marine Protected Area

JASCO Applied Sciences’ Briand Gaudet joins the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and other biologists at the Gully Marine Protected Area Exhibition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Gully’s formal designation as a Marine Protected Area. This one-day science outreach event takes place at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History in Halifax on Saturday May 10, 2014. The exhibit will include interactive displays about the Gully and the deep-sea creatures that inhabit this unique ecosystem.

Do you speak whale?

Briand’s contribution to the event will be to enable attendees to see if they can “speak whale”. When participants imitate sounds of marine fauna into a microphone (after listening to examples), JASCO’s specialized detection software shows them a visual rendering of their vocalization and tells them what species they sound like, be it humpback whale, orca, bearded seal, or even snapping shrimp. “The detection software is somewhat altered to detect the frequencies of the human voice in air” says Briand, who is a software engineer at JASCO and develops acoustic analysis tools like these detectors, “but the principle is the same.” The demonstration shows how scientific software can identify a species based on the frequency, timing, and structure of their calls. “People get excited when you tell them that we can actually detect whales. Sitting at a computer all day can seem tiresome, so this is a fun reminder that what we do is actually pretty cool.”

At 65 km long, up to 16 km wide, and over 2 km deep, the Gully is the largest undersea canyon in the western North Atlantic Ocean. It is located on the edge of the continental shelf 200 km off the Nova Scotia coast and east of Sable Island. The Gully is a biodiversity hotspot, including at least 16 species of whales and dolphins and the largest variety of cold-water corals in Atlantic Canada with approximately 30 different species. This unique environment was designated a Marine Protected Area (MPA) on May 14, 2004.

The Gully Marine Protected Area: Canada’s Undersea Grand Canyon
Saturday May 10, 2014
10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
1747 Summer St.
Halifax, NS (902) 424-7353
Exhibit Brochure (PDF, 11 MB)