The Whale Song Project, presented by Scientific American and by the Citizen Science Alliance within its Zooniverse project suite, is inviting citizen scientists to help study whale communications and document their observations online.
The Whale Song Project (WhaleFM) is studying calls and songs of killer and pilot whales with researchers from the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) in Scotland and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, Scientific American announced online in an article and blog.
Through the WhaleFM website, citizen scientists can help by listening to a whale call represented by a spectrogram showing pitch changes and associated with the location where it was recorded on a world ocean and sea map, then listen to a series of potentially matching calls drawn from the project's database and click on any matching sound's spectrogram so the results will be stored.
Long- and short-finned species of pilot whales (that belong to the order Cetacea and genus Globicephala) are difficult to distinguish from a distance.
WHOI and SMRU researchers studying whale dialects collected the sounds over several years through microphones attached to pilot and killer whales. But the volume of data (including extraneous background noises) has grown so huge a worldwide team of scientists will be needed to sort it out.
Some experiments recorded whales' behavioral responses to sonar sounds, and others aimed to learn more about the size and significance of whale song repertoires, Scientific American reported.
Anyone interested in helping can begin by signing up at Whale.fm.
To learn about and participate in other citizen science projects, visit Zooniverse.