Few of us will ever visit the deep ocean, but thanks to the wonders of online streaming, there are more opportunities to experience this alien environment than ever before. Robots are live-streaming underwater volcanoes, undersea canyons, and shipwrecks. Now, scientists are streaming a spooky-ass audio feed from the deep, too.
“We hope the public can experience the simple joy of hearing the voices of marine life,” lead scientist John Ryan told Earther in an email.
The sounds serve a purpose, too. Ranging from the low hum of ships to a cacophany of clicks and whistles when a dolphin pod cruises by, they’re part of an emerging science that uses acoustics to explore new environments and observe how ecosystems responds to disturbance.
Researchers are just starting to understand how an environment’s soundscape can be used to take its pulse, and the years of data collected by MBARI should prove an invaluable addition to this effort.
“Much of our work has focused on establishing the best methods for analyzing mountains of acoustic data,” Ryan said, noting that the hydrophone produces a whopping two terabytes of sound a month.
The new livefeed comes with a few tools to help lay folks make sense of the what they’re hearing, including a spectrograph that shows spikes when a new noise occurs, and a “listening room” with examples of what various cetacean coos, rainfall, and even earthquakes sound like.
Sound, as Ryan put it, is an “essential dimension of life in the sea,” which is essential to the well-being of land lubbers like us—the oceans not only support multibillion-dollar fishing and tourism economies, they regulate our climate and produce half the oxygen we breathe. So, next time you’re feeling like connecting with the great big pond that makes this whole messy planet tick, pop your best headphones on and tune in.
Who knows, maybe it’s just what need to get that noisecore album finished.