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Eavesdropping on Whales in the High Arctic

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The technique, called Distributed Acoustic Sensing, uses an instrument called an interrogator to tap into a fibre optic system, turning unused, extra fibers in the cable into a long virtual array of hydrophones.

Credit: Andrew Sutton/Shutterstock/NTB

Norwegian researchers used existing underwater fiber-optic cables to listen to whales in the Arctic via the Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system.

"With this system, which is what we can basically call a hydrophone array, we have the chance to cover a much bigger area for monitoring," said former Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) researcher Léa Bouffaut. "And because we receive the sound at multiple angles, we can even say where the animal was—the position of the animal."

The researchers listened to underwater sounds in the Isfjorden region of the Svalbard archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, amassing a total of 7 terabytes of data each day for analysis.

NTNU's Hannah Joy Kriesell suggested a DAS setup enabling real-time analysis could reduce the risk of ship-whale collisions.

From Norwegian SciTech News
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