Cruising Division Presentation - Whales: their sounds and conservation
Whales are now a common sight off the Australian coasts and they even enter bays and inlets like Sydney Harbour, but that was not the case when Doug Cato first took an interest in whales and their sounds in the 1970s. Widespread whaling had led to a substantial reduction in the numbers of a few key species, to the point where the numbers were perilously low.
Whales inhabit a very different world to our own. In particular, sound travels much further in water than in air while visibility is very poor. Consequently, we use sound in the ocean for many purposes, but of course, the marine animals, particularly the whales, use sound the most effectively, providing a fascinating array of sounds and related behaviour. Some whales use sound as sonar to detect prey and build pictures of their environment while others produce elaborate songs. What do the songs mean – do they carry some profound message or are some form of culture as some have suggested?
The talk will give an overview of the different types of whales around Australia, how numbers have changed over since the end of widespread whaling and how they use sound. It will end with some comments about the current state of their conservation.
Doug Cato has been working in underwater acoustics for 50 years and with whales for more than 30 years. He is currently Chief Scientist of a major project involving a number of universities on the effects of noise on whale behaviour (http://www.brahss.org.au/). He recently retired from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (now and Honorary fellow) where he worked on underwater acoustics related to sonar and provided advice to Government on the effects of noise on marine animals. He is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Geosciences and the Marine Studies Institute at the University of Sydney.
Cost: There is no cost to attend the presentation, but please RSVP to assist with the setting up. Why not stay for dinner afterwards and continue the discussion with other cruising enthusiasts.