Presentation Title

A Comparative Analysis of Humpback Whale Soundscape Ecology; Before and During COVID-19 Marine Restrictions

Project Collaborators

Laura Newman

Abstract

Christopher Wilson

CURE - Department of Biology at the University of Vermont

The Analysis of Humpback Whale Soundscape Ecology; Comparing Before and

During Covid-19 Marine Restrictions

Author(s)

Christopher Wilson

Professor Laura J May-Collado

Betzi Perez*

Kristin Rasmussen*

Abstract

The novel Coronavirus’ strict marine lockdowns decreased global ocean traffic

density by nearly 45.0%. Scientists took advantage of this unique opportunity to focus

study on any relation these silent seas may have with sonorous species--relying on

sound to communicate. In order to support any possible conclusion, we deployed

autonomous underwater recorders focusing on daily boat congestion and animal

frequencies at locations Islas Secas and Pargo Archipelago situated on the southern

humpback whale’s migratory route near panama. In these breeding areas, male

humpback whales can be detected miles away signing complex songs to attract females

and to compete with other males. Using RFCxARBIMON as our acoustic database and

dBWav to estimate overall ambient noise levels we created a presence-absence matrix to

clearly compare data collected in 2020 versus more standard data from 2017. Our

hypothesis shows support for the already established claim of SARS-CoV-2’ decreased

boat presence. Accompanying this, the hypothesis supports evidence for the inverse

effect mankind's polluting actions have increasing species population density. The

results of this study will help as a building block to a better understanding of the impact

anthropogenic underwater noise has on marine life.

**Institution: Fundacion Panacetacea

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

laura

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biology

Primary Research Category

Arts & Humanities

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A Comparative Analysis of Humpback Whale Soundscape Ecology; Before and During COVID-19 Marine Restrictions

Christopher Wilson

CURE - Department of Biology at the University of Vermont

The Analysis of Humpback Whale Soundscape Ecology; Comparing Before and

During Covid-19 Marine Restrictions

Author(s)

Christopher Wilson

Professor Laura J May-Collado

Betzi Perez*

Kristin Rasmussen*

Abstract

The novel Coronavirus’ strict marine lockdowns decreased global ocean traffic

density by nearly 45.0%. Scientists took advantage of this unique opportunity to focus

study on any relation these silent seas may have with sonorous species--relying on

sound to communicate. In order to support any possible conclusion, we deployed

autonomous underwater recorders focusing on daily boat congestion and animal

frequencies at locations Islas Secas and Pargo Archipelago situated on the southern

humpback whale’s migratory route near panama. In these breeding areas, male

humpback whales can be detected miles away signing complex songs to attract females

and to compete with other males. Using RFCxARBIMON as our acoustic database and

dBWav to estimate overall ambient noise levels we created a presence-absence matrix to

clearly compare data collected in 2020 versus more standard data from 2017. Our

hypothesis shows support for the already established claim of SARS-CoV-2’ decreased

boat presence. Accompanying this, the hypothesis supports evidence for the inverse

effect mankind's polluting actions have increasing species population density. The

results of this study will help as a building block to a better understanding of the impact

anthropogenic underwater noise has on marine life.

**Institution: Fundacion Panacetacea