WHALES: SOSUS

On the bottom of the ocean, the United States Navy has a global array of underwater microphones to listen for submarines and other vessels. It’s called the Sound Surveillance System, or SOSUS, and it enables listeners to monitor sounds of an entire ocean at once. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Chris Clark is the Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University. He’s one of the few scientists invited by the Navy to put SOSUS to non-military use — in his case, to listen for whales. Right now we’re listening to the sounds of Blue, Humpback, Minke and Fin whales, speeded up ten times.

“If you can hear a submarine a thousand miles away that’s trying to be quiet, don’t you think you can hear a Blue Whale that’s singing at the top of its voice?”

“One of the most phenomenal benefits of having this remarkable opportunity to listen to an entire ocean using this Navy network was that you can listen to each of the whales as they’re singing or calling over an entire ocean basin.”

“You can focus your attention with such clarity that you can hear the sound of a whale a thousand to two thousand miles away. So I can listen to a Blue Whale when I’m lying on the bottom of the ocean off of Puerto Rico, I can turn my attention to the north, past Bermuda all the way up to Newfoundland, and listen to a Blue Whale that’s singing on the Grand Banks. Sixteen hundred miles away. That’s as though you could have a conversation from Boston to Miami.”

We’ll hear more on tracking whales in the deep ocean in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

WHALES: SOSUS

The US Navy’s Sound Surveillance System, or SOSUS, is being used by some scientists for non-military purposes, like listening to the entire ocean at once to hear whales.
Air Date:10/15/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

On the bottom of the ocean, the United States Navy has a global array of underwater microphones to listen for submarines and other vessels. It's called the Sound Surveillance System, or SOSUS, and it enables listeners to monitor sounds of an entire ocean at once. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Chris Clark is the Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University. He's one of the few scientists invited by the Navy to put SOSUS to non-military use -- in his case, to listen for whales. Right now we're listening to the sounds of Blue, Humpback, Minke and Fin whales, speeded up ten times.

"If you can hear a submarine a thousand miles away that's trying to be quiet, don't you think you can hear a Blue Whale that's singing at the top of its voice?"

"One of the most phenomenal benefits of having this remarkable opportunity to listen to an entire ocean using this Navy network was that you can listen to each of the whales as they're singing or calling over an entire ocean basin."

"You can focus your attention with such clarity that you can hear the sound of a whale a thousand to two thousand miles away. So I can listen to a Blue Whale when I'm lying on the bottom of the ocean off of Puerto Rico, I can turn my attention to the north, past Bermuda all the way up to Newfoundland, and listen to a Blue Whale that's singing on the Grand Banks. Sixteen hundred miles away. That's as though you could have a conversation from Boston to Miami."

We'll hear more on tracking whales in the deep ocean in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.