Underwater Sound:
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WHERE TO LISTEN:Future marine biologists start here!
  • HARBORS and MARINAS: Take a trip to your local marina; drop Dolphin- EAR into the water. Try to get near the entrance. If you are near a major port, try within 300-400 metres of the ship berths and listen as they maneuver. Each boat or ship has it's own characteristic sound. Often you can hear which ones are having mechanical problems with their engines, prop shafts and propellers. You will also hear a lot of Snapping Shrimp (discussed below) 
  • BOATS: The best place! If you are looking for Dolphins or Whales, go to the areas they frequent. Shut off the boats' engine and listen. Usually, you can hear their vocalizations on the DolphinEAR before you actually see them! Don't take your boat too close. They will come to you! Meanwhile enjoy their grunts, whistles and songs. 
  • WHALE WATCHING TOURS: Great fun! A good operator will be able to find the best locations. If you are shooting a video, plug DolphinEAR into the camera so you can HEAR and SEE the whales. Plus, you will be able to hear whales as they dive for food - often out of view for long periods but within range of your DolphinEAR! 
  • DIVING: While you are getting a little 'surface time' between dives, put the DolphinEAR hydrophone over the side and listen for the sounds of the sealife around you. It's useful as a signal between divers and dive boat, too! 
  • From the BEACH: Try a wharf, pier or dock that gets you away from the breaking waves of a beach. In some northern climes, you may hear the grunts of seals living nearby. 
  • LAKES and RIVERS: Nearly anyplace will do. Listen for boats, or in the winter try listening for the sounds made by Ice as it cracks and groans.

Some places are very quiet; some a sonically 'alive'. You will have to experiment to find the best places. While listening to whales and dolphins is lots fo fun, there are many other creatures which make sounds underwater. Remember also, that before DolphinEAR came along, listening to underwater sounds was an expensive and time consuming proposition. You may discover underwater sounds that have never been heard! You may also find links between sounds and various habitats. For example, we wonder why 'snapping shrimp' seem to prefer boat marinas where pollution and toxic bottom paints abound, over cleaner waters just outside the entrance. If you want to explore our last earthly frontier, DolphinEAR will open up a whole new dimension. 

  • Dolphins.Whales:

  • You will often hear dolphins when you cannot see them. They are easily identified by their high pitched squeeks. They also emit a 'clicking' sound used to locate fish. Sometimes they are very quiet and even though they are close to your boat you won't hear much. Other times, you can hear them through the boats' hull! Whales are generally identified by lower pitched grunts and moans. 

    You will probably hear more than you will see with whales. Listen to whales as they dive and search for food. Different whale specied tend to emit different noises and scientists are trying to determine the exact meaning of the different sounds. This is an area where 'amateur scientists' using a DolphinEAR can contribute greatly to the general knowledge about the meaning of these 'vocalizations'.

  • Boat Sounds: 

  • Listen for the crackling and popping of 'Snapping Shrimp'. They seem to thrive in most marinas and in many bays and anchorages. They create a snapping noise with their large claw. Scientists disagree as to the purpose of the snapping. Some say it's a warning to other shrimp nearby. Others say the shrimp shoot out a jet of water from their claw to stun prey. Whatever the reason the snapping goes on day and night. You will also hear a lot of boats. Listen for the different sounds made by sailboats, power boats, Jet Skis, and different outboard motors on dinghys. With practice you can pick out whether a boat uses a diesel or petrol power engine, hear pumps, and bubbles from outboard exhausts. Some boats are very quiet and you can only hear them at a range of 30-50 metres. Some are lounder and you can har them out to 1/2 kilometre or more.
  • SEALS and Dugongs (Manatees): 

  • Both make underwater sounds but not much has been recorded or described in scientific literature. A Dugong nursing pups will call them over distances of a few hundred metres. There is much work to be done recording and cataloging these 'vocalizations'.

  • Many fish can make sounds. There are 'Croaker Fish' which as the name implies make 'croaking' sounds. There are species of coral dwelling fish that make sounds by gnawing on coral - perhaps to scare preditors or attract mates. Large Groupers make 'grunts' to signal theiir displeasure at your presence. There may be many more if we start looking for them. Again, this is an excellent place for the amateur scientist to make meaningful contributions to marine science. 
  • SHIPS: 

  • Large ships generate very low frequency sounds and vibrations which can sometimes be picked up several miles away. Many factors are involved including speed and direction of the boat. If you are near a port, try listening to a ship as it maneuvers into its berth. Getting within 200 - 300 metres should allow you to have a good listen as tug boats grind their engines and the ship thrusts forward and backwards to position itself at the wharf.

    When you get out from the shore on a boat, many of the interfering sounds found close to shore disappear and you are able to hear sounds much further away.

(PLEASE NOTE:  'DolphinEAR' is the NEW Name for 'DolphinPHONE'.  Some confusion occurred with the
'phone' part of the name.  It stood for 'hydroPHONE' but few people seem to have clicked on the
association!  We hope 'DolphinEAR' better describes it as a 'listening device for under water sounds.)