Because sound travels so powerfully in the sea, sound is a natural way for people to experience and learn about the ocean environment and its inhabitants that produce sound.  Toward enriching public experience and understanding of the ocean soundscape, and its importance in research and conservation, this project develops and deploys exhibits.  Working with NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), as well as academic and non-profit partners, we have deployed resident exhibits in multiple locations.  For expanded outreach we also deploy a mobile sound system that enriches public engagement.

We can dunk our heads below the ocean surface and hear sound.  However, the human auditory system did not evolve for listening optimally in water.  Further, if we are near the coast, what we hear below the surface will be influenced by noise sources that can obscure the greater soundscape of the sea.  For these reasons, representation of the ocean soundscape benefits from high-quality hydrophone recordings acquired away from the coast.  At the MARS cabled observatory we can hear biodiversity in the sounds produced by mammals and fish, and we can track anthropogenic noise that can interfere with marine animals’ use of sound in essential life activities.  Representation of the soundscape benefits from capable speakers that can translate low-pitch sounds, such as those produced by gigantic whales and earthquakes, into air movement that we can feel.

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