Study to ex­am­ine dol­phins’ sound­scape

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News -

TO un­der­stand the un­der­wa­ter worlds dol­phins in­habit, Curtin Univer­sity re­searchers are look­ing to ex­am­ine the noise en­vi­ron­ment of the Swan River.

The re­search pro­ject aims to build a solid pic­ture of the sound­scape of the Indo-Pa­cific bot­tlenose dol­phins that live in the Swan River by set­ting up un­der­wa­ter lis­ten­ing sta­tions.

Curtin Univer­sity’s Cen­tre for Marine Science and Tech­nol­ogy deputy di­rec­tor Chan­dra Sal­gado Kent is man­ag­ing the re­search pro­ject.

She has been re­search­ing dol­phins for the past decade.

Dr Sal­gado Kent said it was im­por­tant to un­der­stand if the sound en­vi­ron­ment in the Swan River was chang­ing and what po­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions it had on dol­phins' abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate.

She said poor vis­i­bil­ity in the river meant dol­phins had de­vel­oped an ad­vanced abil­ity to use sound to nav­i­gate their en­vi­ron­ment.

“Dol­phins have evolved to de- pend on sound heav­ily for nav­i­ga­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, avoid­ing preda­tors, and for lo­cat­ing prey,” Dr Sal­gado Kent said.

“The acous­tic en­vi­ron­ment in which they live can dic­tate how well they are able to use sound for these pur­poses.

“Ev­ery lo­ca­tion within the river has dif­fer­ent noise sources, in­clud­ing a range of man-made noises as­so­ci­ated with our own use of the river.”

Dr Sal­gado Kent said lit­tle was known about the sound en­vi­ron­ments that dol­phins live in, and the im­pact they could have on their liveli­hood.

Sound sta­tions will be used in the river to un­cover the hid­den in­for­ma­tion.

“By bet­ter un­der­stand­ing if there are any lim­i­ta­tions in the abil­ity of dol­phins to com­mu­ni­cate and un­der­take their daily ac­tiv­i­ties in a rel­a­tively noisy en­vi­ron­ment, we can be­gin to im­prove how we con­duct our own noisegen­er­at­ing ac­tiv­i­ties around dol­phins,” she said.

A crowd-fund­ing pro­ject has been set-up to raise funds needed to com­plete the re­search.

Con­tri­bu­tions will go to­wards analysing data, in­stalling new lis­ten­ing sta­tions and ser­vic­ing the lis­ten­ing sta­tions.

Con­tri­bu­tions can be made at https://curtin.hub­bub.net/p/ dol­phins/.

Curtin is hop­ing to crowd-fund $7500.

A group of fe­males and calves in Fre­man­tle. The dol­phin on the far left is Pa­nuni's calf, the youngest calf in the Swan Can­ning river­park. Ju­ve­niles so­cialise in

Perth wa­ters.

Chan­dra Sal­gado Kent

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