Our team explores wonders of ocean life that are uniquely accessible through sound.

Sound travels powerfully through the sea, over much greater distances than light. This aspect of nature has been integrated by evolution into the lives of animals that use sound in their essential life activities — communicating, foraging, reproducing, socializing, and navigating a vast and largely dark world. Sound recordings capture the signatures of these life activities, thereby revealing animal presence and behavior. Together with environmental observations, sound recordings open a window into the complex and wonderful ecology of diverse species.

Exploration of the ocean soundscape is also essential to stewardship. Because many ocean animals rely on sound for life, noise from human activities can be detrimental. The protection of acoustic habitat is an emerging dimension of ocean health, and it requires understanding the nature and severity of noise pollution. The same recordings that reveal the wonders of ocean life also reveal the anthropogenic noise imprint, as a foundation for informing management and mitigation. Sound analysis can also inform protection of endangered species, like blue whales, that face risks from collision with large ships along the pathways of their movement as they forage and migrate.

Toward enabling human connection to ocean life, this project develops open-source public exhibits that allow people to hear, see, and feel the ocean soundscape.



Oestreich, W.K., B. Abrahms, M.F. McKenna, J.A. Goldbogen, L.B. Crowder, and J.P. Ryan. 2022. Acoustic signature reveals blue whales tune life-history transitions to oceanographic conditions. Functional Ecology, 36: 882–895. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14013

Smith, K.B., P. Leary, T. Deal, J. Joseph, J. Ryan, C. Miller, C. Dawe, and B. Cray. 2022. Acoustic vector sensor analysis of the Monterey Bay region soundscape and the impact of COVID-19. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 151: 2507–2520. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0010162

Zhang, Y., P.R. McGill, and J.P. Ryan. 2022. Optimized design of windowed-sinc anti-aliasing filters for phase-preserving decimation of hydrophone data. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 151: 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0009823

Ryan, J.P., J.E. Joseph, T. Margolina, L.T. Hatch, A. Azzara, A. Reyes, B.L. Southall, A. DeVogelaera, L.E. Peavey Reeves, Y. Zhang, D.E. Cline, B. Jones, P. McGill, S. Baumann-Pickering, and A.K. Stimpert. 2021. Reduction of low-frequency vessel noise in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8: 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.656566

Krumpel, A., A. Rice, K.E. Frasier, F. Reese, J.S. Trickey, A.E. Simonis, J.P. Ryan, S.M. Wiggins, A. Denzinger, H.U. Schnitzler, and S. Baumann-Pickering. 2021. Long-term patterns of noise from underwater explosions and their relation to fisheries in Southern California. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8: 1–21. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.796849