2021 Wild Ocean Science: Technology

2021 Wild Ocean Science: Technology

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Welcome everyone and thanks for joining us for  Wild Ocean Science 2021 today we will catch   everyone up to speed on new technology that the  Wild Dolphin Project has been implementing and   what the future holds for the project but first  let's go back to the beginning to remind everyone   how it all started Dr. Denise Herzing founded the  Wild Dolphin Project in 1985 and her inspiration   came from some very well-known women scientists  when i was in graduate school Jane Goodall was out   studying chimpanzees Diane Fosse was looking at  gorillas and Cynthia Moss was looking at elephants   this was my inspiration for finding a place  in the wild to study dolphins long term   what these three researchers really had in  common is they found a place in the wild   they planted themselves there and committed to at  least a couple of decades of observations to try   and understand an animal society and that's really  what I wanted to do with dolphins in the wild   I wanted to start the wild dolphin project because  I was really curious about what was going on in   the mind of non-human animals and at the time  Atlantic spotted dolphins were fairly unstudied   and they are intelligent  and complex social mammals   i chose the Bahamas as my study site because  I wanted to study these animals underwater. The Bahamas has water accessible dolphins and this  species has spots which helps us determine their   age classes. Dr. Herzing has been studying this  specific community of Atlantic spotted dolphins   for over three decades in this video we will  cover some of what has been learned over the years   for more details about the science and discoveries  made by the Wild Dolphin Project please feel   free to check out our scientific publications  online or schedule a talk with us to learn more.  

Over the years Dr. Herzing has learned a  lot about the life history of this species   she discovered that Atlantic spotted dolphins are  born without spots and gain these spots with age.   As a result she was able to split  them up into four age classes.   Two tones are the calves with no spots, speckled  are the juveniles with a sprinkling of black spots   on their bellies, Mottleds are young adults and  this is when we start seeing white spots form   on their dorsal side, the old adults are the  Fused age class they have spots that start   to coalesce and their bodies are black and white  all over. Still focusing on the life history data   Dr. Herzing also found out that the females are  pregnant for about a year and through non-invasive   genetics we have discovered that the older males  are the ones actually stirring the offspring.  

Dr. Herzing and her graduate students have also  explored a lot about the ecology of the Atlantic   spotted dolphin we have learned that they prefer  to feed on fish such as flounder and razor fish   but more importantly we've discovered that the  spotted dolphins will actually go off the deep   ledge at night to feed on flying fish and squid  something the resident bottlenose dolphins have   never been observed doing. Dr. Herzing and  the Wild Dolphin Project have also learned a   lot about the social behavior of this species she  has found that females will often associate based   on their reproductive stage for example groups  of moms with calves will often stick together   even if these females never associated  with one another prior to having calves.   Lastly one of Dr. Herzing's main focuses of  study with this species has been acoustics   and vocalizations. Here she'll explain in some  detail how we record the sounds the dolphins  

make and the vocalizations she has learned my  main goal was to study dolphin communication To do this I had to lay down a framework to  understand their own society this included   knowing the individuals their relationships with  each other and how they communicated with each   other to correlate sound and behavior we've always  used an underwater video with a hydrophone input   with many years of data collected while recording  sounds the hydrophone and simultaneously recording   video she has been able to make correlations  between vocalizations and behaviors dolphins   make three types of vocalizations dolphins  make frequency modulated whistles and in   some cases they have a specific whistle called  a signature whistle which is basically a name Dolphins also make sonar clicks for  echolocation this is the sound they   use primarily for navigation and hunting Dolphins also make a sound called a burst pulse   these are the most unstudied sounds  because they are hard to categorize   they are close proximity sounds and often  found during aggression or play fighting Now that we have caught everyone up to  speed with a brief recap of who we are here   at the wild dolphin project let's look into the  future. And the future is now. Greetings dolphin   nation I'm Miles O'Brien today in Santa Monica  California we are live from all over the world   from Florida from Singapore from Georgia uh  the list goes on to bring you all together   for our common love for wild dolphins and most  importantly the woman of the hour the founder of   the Wild Dolphin Project Denise Herzing. Denise,  it's good to be sort of together this is our third   Wild Ocean Science event the first time we've  tried it virtually each year we've done it we've   always raised a little more money for the the  good work that you and your team do and that's   our goal here today we're going to learn about  dolphins we're going to learn about how you learn   about dolphins and we're going to spend a few  moments supporting the cause one way or another   but we want you to participate help the cause and  most important i want you to think about this as   a conversation we have some people here who know  an awful lot about dolphins unsurpassed knowledge   uh frankly and Denise just a couple thoughts on  you know last year of course right about this time   couldn't even contemplate a virtual  event we're right in the thick of it   as far as the pandemic goes this year things are  looking a little more up and the good news is I   hear your season is already sold out every voyage  of the Stenella is fully subscribed so that's   you have an exciting season ahead tell us  a little bit about what you have planned   yeah thanks Miles and it's great to have you back  even though it's virtually but this is our life   right now um yeah we have a full season we are  gonna take our many new toys out that you're   gonna hear about and yeah last year we got cut  short completely so yeah we're uh encouraging   you to ask questions after every section of  technology and we'd love to hear from you   yeah I think one of the questions  on my mind is do you think I'm   Mottled or Fused at this stage of my life I  don't know I'm feeling kind of fused some days anyway we'll get to all those questions as the  evening day whatever it is wherever you may be   moves on we want to begin with um you know  Denise has been spending now since 1985   following basically one pod of dolphins in the  Bahamas and you know people always say well how   did she find them and it actually a couple years  ago got difficult because we think climate change   caused a crash in the food supply and Denise  went out and they were gone right and it was   actually a real challenge trying to figure out  where they went and one of the things they do is   come up with new ways to sort of keep their their  their antenna out for where the pod may be so   why don't we without further ado we're gonna roll  a video with Cassie Volker Rusche who is the able   research assistant as part of the wild dolphin  project is going to tell you about a couple of   the new pieces of technology they're using to  try to keep track of where the dolphins may be   climate change is an issue for many species and  even the dolphins over in the Bahamas have been   unable to escape the impacts in 2013 50 percent  of our resident group from little Bahama bank   moved over 100 miles south down to Bimini and  after reviewing oceanographic data we decided   this move was likely due to a food crash in  the fish population on little Bahama bank   as you can see from these graphs up on little  Bahama bank we saw a clear drop in chlorophyll   where the dolphins normally fed on great Bahama  bank although there was some variation there was   no significant change in the chlorophyll  levels since chlorophyll is a proxy for   plankton production our conclusion is that there  was a major food crash on little Bahama bank   the lack of food forced part of this dolphin  population to find another area in which to feed   leading them to the shallow sandbanks surrounding  the island of Bimini as a result of this food   crash and the displacement of 50 of the dolphin  population the wild dolphin project has had to   resort to new technology to help locate some of  our more elusive dolphins up on little Bahama bank One of the new technologies we are now  implementing here at the Wild Dolphin   Project is passive acoustic monitoring.  Recently we deployed some passive acoustic  

monitoring equipment to gather data when  we are not physically in these locations   the hope is that this technology will help us find  some of our more elusive individuals who remained   on little Bahama bank after the displacement  in 2013. This particular device that we are   using is named an E.A.R. it's basically a lot of  batteries and a computer that is programmed to   go on and off at certain intervals and collect  acoustic data over a period of a couple months. While securing the E.A.R. to the sea floor we  had some curious dolphins come and check out   what we were doing as you can see we picked  the perfect spot to passively listen to any   dolphins swimming by if you look on the sea  floor behind the dolphins you can see the ear   that remained on the bottom until  we retrieved it a few months later   another way that the Wild Dolphin Project is  trying to find some of its missing dolphins is by   enlisting the help of citizens through acquiring  and id'ing citizen photos all around the world   researchers today are depending on citizens to  upload their photos to sites such as fluke books.  

If you go to our project's website you will find  a link for fluke books under the our research   tab this will take you to a page on our website  describing the process of how fluke books works   it takes the photos you submit of dolphins you  saw in the Bahamas and using their spot patterns   it matches them to the dolphins in our catalog  basically it's facial recognition but using spots   from this page you can get to the fluke books  homepage where you can fill out a form and   submit your photos if the computer finds a match  it will notify you and let you know who you saw.   We hope that the next time you're in the Bahamas  and you come across any dolphins that you remember   to upload your photos here so that we can  let you know which dolphins you encountered.   And joining us now along with Denise is Cassie  Volker Rusche. Cassie, it's a big ocean how   how big of an area can a device like that cover  and ideally how many would you like to have so   you can you know find out where these dolphins  might be. So ideally we would like to have quite   a few more we have a couple different places  in our research area that we would like to   put these down on the bottom always the more the  better especially because we can't be out there   24 7. so any device that can help us collect data  every day all day long would be absolutely perfect   so you you have to leave them there and obviously  there's no real-time telemetry underwater   and so it records a big long two-month recording  uh that's a little bit of a data retrieval   nightmare isn't it how do you go about  listening to two months worth of um   noises of boats and everything else in  addition to dolphin noises potentially   yeah so we actually send the data off-site  Denise I'm drawing a blank on who we send   it to i know it's we're teamed up with Dr.  Mark Lammers but I'm drawing a blank on who  

the site is or this uh people are yeah his group  is Oceanwide Science yeah so we actually hired   them to do the data analysis primarily because  we needed it quick because we wanted to find our   dolphins from the data it really you know it's  just so stunning that they would just kind of   you know disappear on you after all  those years. Catherine has a question   really both of you with the food supply going  down are there efforts to help sustain the food   supply to keep the dolphins around rather than  having to advance technologies to find them   this brings up a very important point about  um the wild dolphin project philosophy is   you're not there to really disturb nature  right you're there to observe it but um is   there anything we can you know this is obviously  a concern is there anything we can or should do   to help these dolphins I mean one way is always  to be to support sustainable fisheries and just   when you go out to restaurants try and do your  research you know try to make sure that they are   accurately cultivating the fish that they gather  that's always a big thing and just doing your part   and researching as best as you can when you go out  on some type of tourist boat when you go if they   say that they're swimming with certain animals  just always make sure that they have the proper   permits is a big thing and make sure that they are  being sustainable environmentally cautious when   they're out there as well so it can be anything  from you just as simple as maybe not ordering and   eating a lot of fish or cutting down on the types  of fish that you are eating especially ones that   maybe are declining in their populations out in  the wild so just kind of doing your part and being   educated on the topic is very important is also a  very important step Denise is there any evidence   you know dolphins are smart and they're very  mobile uh they they know how to find uh their next   lunch pretty well but is there any evidence that  this crash in the food and the move that they made   has had any adverse impact on the pond well i  mean just the fact that they had to move 100 miles   to find fish and now they're interacting with a  local group that causes challenges so absolutely   and we don't know the long-term report  reproduction uh impact for example but that's   why we study long-term do you uh roughly how many  dolphins are still missing in action so to speak well uh there were about 52 that moved south  now more are trickling down from up north   where we previously were so yeah probably probably  another 50 are kind of missing in action I would   say this is a reminder you know when we think of  climate change we focus on specific things like   sea level rise and that sort of thing but there's  there's so many consequences to our ecosystem that   it's almost impossible to think of them all  all the unintended consequences of the climate   change but here's one thing uh a slight change  in temperature in the water or maybe the salinity   do we know why that crash occurred but one way or  another this has a huge ripple effect on species   in the oceans doesn't it yeah it does we what we  actually saw was from NOAA information that there   was chlorophyll which is at the surface of the  water actually decreased up on little bahama bank   and that's a proxy for phytoplankton which is kind  of the base of the food chain so if that crashes   all the little fish that eat that and then  the bigger fish that eat the little fish   all of that just cascades and declines and  also where the chlorophyll decreased on little   Bahama bank we did not see that down on great  Bahama bank which is where Bimini is situated   and that's where they move to so we need to  start tracking the chlorophyll levels down   by Bimini and hopefully they stay well enough  so that the resident population and the new   population that went down can continue  to be continue to feed on those reefs.   So Karen would like to know how the dolphins made  this change of location for example would some   have scouted and then tried to communicate back to  the others that's that's an interesting question   I'm sure that's one that maybe we can't answer  what do you think Denise do you want to weigh in   on that one or is Cassie either one of you i i  can weigh in Denise if you want me to so for us   we are very non-invasive so we do not tag the  dolphins again we don't feed the dolphins we   don't touch the dolphins we try to be  a fly on the wall for them if there's a   synonym for that in the water we try to just  observe as natural their behaviors as we can so   for us unfortunately we don't know if any scouts  were sent out to see but it's possible we do get   movement all across the Bahamas all the different  islands because every once in a while we'll come   for one year and there's a couple uh fused  individuals so those are the older individuals   that we have not seen before so where were these  dolphins so we do get that immigration into our   population so we do think there's definitely  some traveling going on between the islands.   So Mary would like to know how the dolphins  fared during hurricane dorian that was a   particularly bad one dolphins generally speaking  uh they know how to ride out a storm don't they   yeah so unfortunately we're not over there  as well when the storms are happening   so well maybe fortunately yeah that's probably  more fortunate that we're not there but um   again we don't tag them so we don't have locations  of do they go to shallow water or do they actually   go to deeper water which might be safer for them  so we don't know where they go during those storms   but when we do go back to see them  we see that they're doing pretty well   when after dorian happened that we actually had a  relief effort that we took over to dorian for the   people in the Bahamas we gave some supplies over  there and we had about a day to search for some   dolphins and we were able to find four of them  in our population and one was actually a calf   so that kind of said to us that they seem to be  able to fight off that storm and do pretty well in   2004 we did have uh some big hurricanes that wiped  out a pretty decent amount of the population and   for a couple of years they were still recovering  and they weren't doing their normal behaviors   so that those storms can definitely impact their  population and their cohesion and all that kind of   stuff as well interesting Shannon wants to know  if you guys have seen any evidence of increased   immunosuppression related to climate change now  that that that's a tricky one to get at the way   you do your work because you probably have to  draw some blood or something and you don't do that   right we don't do that um the only genetic uh or  body sample that we get is actually their fecal   samples which we can actually tell paternity  based on that i don't know if there's some way   that we can decipher the immunosuppressants and  that kind of thing that's something we would have   to look into but it's definitely a good idea  that it's something that we can possibly look   into in the future and maybe with our genetic  samples we can get even more information   but yeah because we're not invasive we don't  like to pull them out of the water and get any   kind of blood samples because we want to keep  that mutual respect and allow them to keep us   watching them in the water so yeah as of right  now we don't have a way to say to see that but   again with that genetic fecal sample we might be  able to get some information all right i have a   suggestion for you Shannon if you really want to  find out the answer on this why don't you fund a   little bit of research Cassie's I think we've  spurred an idea here Cassie's kind of improved   and uh you know science costs money so we're  going to invite you to uh pony up if you like   and and we'll make sure you're maybe we can make  you a co-author of the paper or something at least   in the acknowledgements. Jeff is curious if we  know what caused the decline in the concentration   of chlorophyll on little Bahama bank is there  a root cause is it temperature acidification or   other issues I think it could possibly we don't  know exactly for sure but Denise if I remember   correctly it has something to do with the wind  change that we had in that area over the summers   yeah that's still a real open  question we honestly don't know   yeah the wind direction has changed a lot  so that could decrease nutrients potentially   hard to say again we don't you know we don't  even know which knobs we're turning anymore when   it comes to climate change and the consequences  are difficult to prevent. All right well um let's  

let's move on everybody's staying so if you have  any um questions further that come to mind for   Cassie Denise they're not going anywhere uh but  uh i gotta tell you you know I've had the good   fortune thanks to my cousin Ruth Petzold  board member on the Wild Dolphin Project to   have had a cruise on Stenella with some of these  wonderful people and one of the highlights of the   mission was being with the person you're about  to meet drew is to say he has an infectious   smile and demeanor is an understatement and on  top of that I've never seen a guy and I'm in   the tv business I've never seen a guy who knows  gopros better frankly and his ability to capture   the dolphins in their environment is extraordinary  and he's here to tell you a little bit about what   the next piece of technology is which is 360.  So let's watch Drew and then we'll bring him   into the conversation so take it away Drew and  tell us about 360 degree viewing of dolphins.   My name is Drew Mayer and this is my video  editing workstation where I sometimes edit   videos for Dr. Herzing and our researchers so that  they can analyze the behaviors and vocalizations  

after we come out of the water  imagine for a moment that you yourself   are a dolphin researcher what you want to  do is concentrate on behaviors so you would   point your camera here and record what looks  like the activity but then look what happens   where do you point your camera now what if  you didn't have to point your camera at all Now you don't have to. This is a 360 camera  it has two lenses and it's able to record   in a complete circle 360 degrees you take  this and you put it in an underwater housing And you attach it to what I call drift cam  360. I designed this for Dr. Herzing so that   it has adjustable ballast so that at about 20 feet  down it hangs in the water column and it records   all the behavior of all the dolphins within visual  range you can adjust the ballast so that it can   hang at 15 feet or hang it 30 feet releasing  the drift cam 360 below the surface gives the   researcher a near limitless range of perspective  radiating from the center point of the camera   meaning that it allows for viewpoints into the  dolphins lives that we could be hard-pressed   to get any other way we can track behaviors and  interactions that we might otherwise have missed   here's an example of how that works yeah so I  mean when i was in there there was a bunch of   aggression going on so squawking head-to-head so  this is like this is replaying that big group of   males yeah so I was in the water following them so  they're kind of just traveling this direction now   but you hear that buzzing which isn't normally  heard in aggression aggression is like squawks   and all that kind of stuff so that buzzing is  courtship so that's i mean we would just not we   would have heard it but then we would have been  like why is that going on in aggression so now   with this 360 we can just go back and zoom in on  these individuals and what they're doing I wonder   what else we missed yeah well we didn't play a lot  no but we didn't because we can go back and look   so let's we'll go back the footage from drift  cam 360 proved to be so valuable for research   that i added the 360 camera to an apparatus  i designed which we call manta here's Cassie   and I discussing the benefits of it now this  was great yes but this is really interesting This is a 360 camera and this  is it's underwater housing   and this is a happy researcher once a very happy  researcher now Cassie tell us what this does for   you so now we have 360 view while we're in the  water with the dolphins so again I'm pointing   at the main action with the gopro and the high  frequency but now if there's dolphins playing   behind me or doing aggression behind me then  I have the 360 which now captures that footage   dolphin research has come a long way  from underwater still film cameras   and underwater riding slates and our understanding  of the dynamics of these amazing dolphin lives and   their environment is advancing every step it's  exciting to see the dynamics of the whole pod   and then to go back and to look at  groups of dolphins and alliances even   individual dolphins and track them throughout the  environment that's what we have with 360 cameras   it's very exciting and we're really looking  forward to uncovering many new things that   we weren't able to see before because we had  a limited vision now we capture everything now   here's a little treat this is the first time that  the dolphins saw drift cam 360. watch what happens Hopefully I've made you as curious about  360 cameras as these dolphins seem to be   text us your questions now and  we'll do our best to answer them. That was fantastic. Joining us now live on  the Wild Ocean Science part three edition   is the legendary Drew Mayer along with Cassie  and Drew the problem with you is you don't have   enough fun in what you do clearly you  got to pick up the energy level will ya   a little bit and by the way you could  probably do late night you know call-in   ads you know for products it's really good  it's very good stuff makes me want to buy one   um so i you know the question which  immediately came to mind as i watched this   is if you if you attached this video and ran this  video into uh an oculus rift headset or something   you could have a virtual dolphin experience  have you tried that and is that something   that people could have access to do somehow  actually my son and I have one of those oculus   headsets and it's wonderful it's if we can only  have everyone have one you it's mind blowing maybe   Cassie you could weigh in on the value that they  give you all so first of all how much are they   well these cameras are more expensive than most of  the prosumer cameras they the cameras themselves   cost about five hundred dollars the housings  cost like a hundred then you need extra batteries   then you need sd cards then you need a workstation  like you saw that I have now that's that's a bit   of a workstation I have four 4k monitors it's  pretty heavy duty one of the things we need and   Denise you and I were talking about this just last  week is here in the lab where we are right now   we need a video workstation here we need to have  a large screen and maybe a couple of large screens   a powerful computer because we're dealing  with some pretty heavy-duty data streams   from two cameras inside one camera is stitching  there's all kind of things zooming in zooming out   but anyway we need power and um that costs  money and I would say to properly outfit us   would probably cost about fifteen thousand dollars  but being the wild dolphin project we can make do   with less and I would say probably with about  eight thousand dollars or so we can be up and   running and be able to handle some things here's  the problem miles is that i'm not always here uh i   do some traveling like you do and um I'm actually  this summer gonna be away for a lot of the time   I'll be on two trips I think with matthias  and and thad I think might be on one of them   um and since I'm not here all the time  I can't leave uh my equipment around and   those two cameras are mine personal equipment  too there's uh here's something that's really   interesting and Denise and I have been talking  with the company that makes these 360 cameras   now they make and you may have seen this Miles  because you're in broadcast they make a camera   that is incredible and the price isn't that much  it's about five thousand dollars and then the   housing which is incredible also is about  another eight thousand dollars this camera   can do 3d 360 in incredible resolutions  we can add hydrophones to it   um it's just amazing you can tell I get excited  about this stuff a little bit well you might you   might have touched on an answer to Alex's question  he wants to know if there'll be advancements made   to obtain audio better audio on the 360 camera it  sounds like integrating that with a hydrophone and   we're going to hear a little bit more about uh  you know triangulating audio with Matthias in a   moment but you know this could have a tremendous  value for research if you had the ability to   not only record sounds but find out where the  sounds were coming from and in a 360 environment   sort of that you're not missing anything right yes  and Alex that's an excellent question with this   super high end unit that we'd love to get please  get it for us whoever's listening you can hook up   a hydrophone to it it's it's a good rig but beyond  that we do use uh high frequency hydrophones that   we have and we'll show that hopefully in a little  bit um if we have time um and just recently Dr.  

Herzing could you talk about the um the ultra  HD high frequency unit that we just recently got   oh well we have a new yeah it's a tascam unit um  yeah I wouldn't say it's ultra high frequency but   it's more high frequency that we synchronize  with our video and yeah you know the ideal   unit is Matthias's we're going to hear about  unit with 360 really that's the ultimate   there's the holy grail there and the thing you  started out I mean what were you you were shooting   tape initially right back oh yeah old vhs video  big camera yeah but you know that's science right   absolutely yeah I'd say I'd say the resolution  has increased a little bit should we say.   Larry actually wants to know, Drew, Larry would  like to know the make and model of the camera   that you're referring to it's made by insta360  and it is the pro the the they have two the pro   and the pro two now this this is the Larry that I  think it is he makes some incredible dome footage   and that he has around the world that is just  incredible if you get a chance to go to one of   his shows where he has a dome set up and he he  plays the 360 or the 180 video you got to go but   but Larry if you want to give me a call and I'd be  happy to to give you the you know the contacts so   all right what's Larry's last name for those  of us who aren't familiar so we can find him   if it's Larry Curtis that's the guy he has a  long-term history of cinematography in underwater   and with especially cetaceans he's an incredible  guy look him up so liam thinks the oculus and 360   video would be awesome for school presentations  it would could really immerse the kids in the   research you can imagine this really exciting  kids you know for those who can't afford or can't   get to the Stenella this would be a pretty cool  substitute wouldn't it it would it'd be fantastic   if we could do that and with the advancements of  technology the prices keep coming down uh the the   user experience it really is maybe sometime in the  future we can I don't know we can somehow show it   but the user experience is incredible um because  you're right in the center of the action that's   what's that 360 cameras put you right in the  center of the action everywhere you look is the   dolphins because quite frankly Cassie when when  we get in the water sometimes we're swarmed yeah   and we and it's confusing we don't even know what  to look at um because there are dolphins swirling   all around us and they're everywhere so what this  does and especially you know I'll bring the oculus   in so you can look at it yeah i'd love to it  allows Cassie to be right in the middle of the   action now she can see everything and she can  now isolate different behaviors with different   dolphins the things we're going to learn with  this is really outstanding and like Denise said   pair something like this with Matthias's...  and I have to yeah Matthias's A.S.P.O.D.   it it really brings us to a whole new level and  I have to give props to Matthias he's the one   that actually introduced me to 360 cameras we  went mountain biking and he's he's talking to   me about 360 camera and he whips it out and he  puts it on the handlebar of the bike that I'm   loaning him and we go for a ride and afterwards it  blew my mind and so right then I bought the latest   ones they had and yeah I'm looking forward  to collaborating with Matthias more on it   Matthias I'm sure we will be happy to throw a 360  on your A.S.P.O.D. if you don't have one on there   already so I just want to add one thing back to  Liam who chimed in in the chat coming from I was   born in Ohio so landlocked state so if we could  get to students that are in landlocked states   and be able to show them the marine world and some  kind of virtual the 360 for the dolphins I think   that would just be such an awesome experience and  really connect with the kids who can't visit the   ocean or have never seen it before so i just  think that's a really cool tool to bring up   and and it's sure a lot more humane than  capturing dolphins and putting them in a tank   to show kids right this is the see them where  they belong all right all right excellent we we   have a few more questions we're going to save them  to the end because we want to move it along here   and talk a little bit you know that experience  of being swarmed by dolphins is something I've   had the good fortune to live through and it's  it's hard to describe how thrilling it is   but one of the things you learn very quickly  when you're in the water with these animals   is the acoustics are such that you really don't  know where the noise is coming from and that's   it's obviously very important because Denise and  her team are trying to connect behaviors with   vocalizations and maybe in so doing kind of crack  the code and figure out how they communicate which   would be a huge breakthrough of course but in  order to do that you need to sort of figure out   where that where is that noise coming from and our  next speaker has spent a ton of time doing just   that coming up with the the kind of technology  that makes that possible Matthias Hoffman-Kunt   is a senior research fellow at the National  University of Singapore so it's about   four in the morning where he is right now I assume  he's drinking a lot of strong coffee to stay with   us we do appreciate it he'll be with us live in  just a moment but first let's let's see exactly   what his technology is all about hi my name is  matthias monkhunt and i work for the national   university of singapore at the acoustic research  laboratory and i've been collaborating with Denise   and the Wild Dolphin Project for quite some years  now and today I'd like to talk a little bit about   what equipment we're using and how we're using  it and what's new and interesting about that   if you generally look at sound underwater it  is the main important method of communication   for animals that live in the ocean light  as you all know doesn't travel very far   maybe maximum 50 meters if you have really really  good visibility but most of the time it's much   less work sound can travel for thousands  of kilometers if the frequencies are low   so a lot of animals use sound now for us as  observers of marine mammals in the wild this   is a bit tricky because our head and our hearing  is not made for underwater hearing it's made for   in-ear hearing the speed of sound underwater is  four and a half times faster than it is in air   so for us to distinguish where sound  is coming from is almost impossible   people have of course recorded over time a lot  of video behavior underwater and even with a   microphone or a single hydrophone in there but  the problem really is that with one hydrophone   you can't distinguish where the sun's coming  from and then people have also put in arrays of   hydrophones so several four or five headphones or  a linear array but the problem with that is that   it's not synchronized with video so what we have  done with this device in the back here which   i'll explain in a moment is we have combined  three high frequency hydrophones or up to four   and a very wide angle video camera which you  see up front and it's all integrated into one   system which you could then use to operate  underwater in there and let me just show you   the device and all okay what we have here is we've  got a regular underwater housing from an old sony   video camera with a dome lens up front and a white  very wide angle 180 degree camera and then we've   got the rest of the equipment all sealed in there  and attached to this we have three hydrophones so   one on the left one on the right and one on the  bottom and what that allows us is this is all   fed into the system and what it allows us is to  synchronize that with the video exactly so for   each frame if we're hearing sounds we know exactly  where it came from we can calculate because with   two hydrophones I can calculate an angle with  three item hydrophones I'm getting two angles   which then gives me a direction of whereas the  sounds coming from and I can then overlay that   in post-processing onto the video so that for  the first time really allows us to identify   which animal is vocalizing and what and so for  the study of behavior it's really important   that we can identify who is vocalizing  at what time who is responding to whom   so we get this back and forth of  communication between the animals   so that's the system in short and obviously this  is all fitted into an underwater housing and   inside is also a a full full-size style  acquisition cart a computer amplifiers   and everything else is necessary and you can take  this whole system and swim with it underwater   so when we analyze the recorded data and we put  this together then we get the following processing   window we have the main screen that shows us  the video that was recorded on the camera on the   right side we have a waterfall display that shows  us the spectrogram of whatever sounds we have   recorded in the bottom we have a time series uh so  what will what this will do is it will process the   computer will process each individual image each  individual frame and if there was a sound detected   it would put a dot on the location of that  whistle let's watch for a second how that happens You see three dolphins and they're all  three are echo locating coming towards us   and it's detecting the clicks of these animals Again it detects the clicks of these animals we go   three animals are coming and  that's the end of that sequence Overall I think this is a great new tool  that opens the door to a whole new way   of investigating the social behavior and  vocal communication of marine mammals   and maybe someday in the future we'll be  able to really understand what they're   talking about and then we might be able to  talk to them in their language on their terms wow that is so darn cool fantastic technology what  a breakthrough this is congratulations on your   efforts there I think this is you know potentially  a really it's it's a huge breakthrough for the   team to be able to you know see and correlate uh  where do you see this going from here this this   technology um well we were talking a few moments  ago about how cool it would be to integrate that   with a 360 image is there any technical reason  that that couldn't happen or is that just a   matter of just applying it no it obviously it  can happen well part of that was simply the   development of that camera the very first one  that we had in the first 360 that we tested out   on the bike jail with drew was it had okay  resolution but if you start zooming into smaller   behaviors of course then it gets a little bit more  fuzzy so the problem with the 360 camera is that   you need to have the resolution and so  only a really really high end 360 can   handle this then another problem is when you're  zooming in the direction calculation of the of   where you put the dots will change because you're  not you know let's say your system is calibrated   to exactly the whole view that you have on your  camera right and now all of a sudden uh you're   zooming into something so then then that pointing  doesn't work anymore so you need to know how much   you zoom I mean it's all doable with software  in theory right but you need to that needs to   be practiced and we haven't done that so normally  the system is has a fixed lens right and we're not   zooming in uh but of course we could you know  first do the detection and then swim into the   behavior and say ah okay now that one was talking  oh and here this one responded so I think Mary we   have found yet another avenue of research that  you can fund if you like because Matthias needs   to figure out how to make this work in 360. this  can be done it's just a matter of time but it is   extraordinary we've got we do have a question and  this does occur to me especially when you consider   35 years of data that we're talking about.  Shannon says holy cats that seems like   so many terabytes of data data would be generated  in a very short amount of time uh with the wolf   acoustic data we capture i guess she studies rules  it quickly becomes difficult to store and manage   and we aren't even collecting video at the  same time Matthias is the uh the post as we   would call it the post-production nightmare  uh as as as big a deal as it sounds there   uh yeah you end up with a lot of data and  downloading and processing and you know just   writing the code to you know take each video  frame look for the corresponding audio and   then put it back together and save it and you're  running this you know for lots lots of sections so   it's it is quite time consuming and does take a  lot of data storage and computing processing power   so Denise before you had the uh technology  that Matthias has helped you develop how   did you how were you able to correlate  behaviors and uh vocalizations was it just   you know um a little bit of guesswork or how would  you do it well you know we would just correlate   group behaviors with group sounds that's still  the problem right so this is technology I've been   waiting for for 35 years really and like Matthias  and I have talked we can start asking really   simple biological questions like does a mother  make a whistle and the calf joins her or does the   calf make a whistle and the mother joins her so  you can start refining your questions to you know   avoid the mass data overwhelming problem really  and that's what graduate students are for right   ask a specific question that's part of it  right yeah Dean would like to know Matthias   how long it takes during post-processing to  get the squares to line up with the video is   that a big uh crunch for a big computer uh  well at the beginning it was and now we're   we had a lot of software overhang so now we're  trying to compress this down so that you really   just take the sections that you actually want to  look at and say uh if we had a 10 minute video or   10 minute section that we're saying okay now we  want to look what's happening that would probably   take uh well maybe 10 hours to process somewhere  around that so before it was a lot more now   10 minutes it depends on the size of the  video so the higher the resolution of course   uh it it becomes more data intense we haven't  really done really really high resolution stuff   yet but the acoustics always at least for the  dolphins stay the same so we've we're sampling at   uh 400 kilo samples per second per channel uh so  we're we're getting in a lot of acoustic data on   three or four hydrophones so where does the  computing horsepower you need is that something   you can use for your uh uh the university or how  do you do it well actually processing normally   when we let's say we're recording we're out in  the boat we've just done some recordings then we   download the data and then at night i just let it  run and hopefully by the morning it spits out some   nice results and we can then look at it sometimes  we if it's short sections you can look at it right   away for you know say seconds or so if you just  want to check what you have but you you run it   on the laptop um you know now processing powers on  uh you know laptop computers have gone so so far   that you can actually do this on a laptop but of  course if you're doing it on the biggest system   and you have a station for this then it goes  faster actually you know it's it's really   extraordinary you know moore's law is a wonderful  thing isn't it gives us the ability to do things   we would couldn't even contemplate it just even a  few years ago with the ability to manage all this   data I love the idea of applying that technology  somehow to a 360 image that would be fantastic.  

All right let's we've got a couple other  here's another one from Alex he wants to know   if there's any ability for live streaming from  the research vessel when we're in the Bahamas   it's funny to mention that Alex I when I went  on my voyage I brought an in-marsat satellite   device and it didn't go so well but technology  is improving and I did also discover that a lot   of the work they do is within cell tower reach in  the Bahamas I discovered that because I got some   crazy cell phone bills because it was just pinging  the Bahamian cell towers all the time but I wonder   Denise and and Matthias too if there's if  you guys have thought a little more about   perhaps engaging students or others in real time  while you're on the Stenella at some location   yeah I mean we've thought about it but  yeah it's all about the technology right   and you know what it's like we're looking for  dolphins for five hours and then we find them   so yeah I don't know it would take a lot to do it  but you know you could do a semi-live streaming   right maybe at night and to show what you did  that would be probably more realistic absolutely   yeah with the right satellite connection I think  you you could do that but technology is getting   better so maybe maybe if Elon Musk chips in  and lets us use his Starlink connection and   if Elon Musk is a dolphin lover and he's listening  right now give us some free starlink time will   you please that's what we that's what the Wild  Dolphin Project needs right now all right let's   let's move on we've been talking about  vocalizations and behaviors correlating the two   trying to figure out what you know if the names  are of the animals the animals have distinct names   and all of this is step by step getting us  closer to you know really a big breakthrough in   understanding how they communicate with each other  clearly something's going on there a lot is going   on there and we're only able to hear with our  ears a certain range of it there's a lot of stuff   we can't even hear Denise has had a wonderful  she's had wonderful collaborations with a lot of   people including Matthias but also with Dr. Thad  Starner at the Georgia Institute of Technology   he's a heck of an engineer and he's  been working on a device a submersible   computer which has the capability of serving  as more or less a real-time transit so let's   um let's watch Thad's video and then we'll bring  him into the conversation so take it away then   early on Denise and her team used a rudimentary  underwater keyboard to interact with the dolphins   after about four years we thought well we should  probably wait till there's better technology   because we're not going to go very far with this  so in 2010 I met a group of computer scientists up   at Georgia Tech Thad Starner's group and turns out  he builds wearable computers and so it was like   well I need a wearable underwater computer so he  grabbed the job and put some of his students on it   this is our C.H.A.T. box chat stands for  Cetacean Hearing and Augmented Telemetry   and basically what it is is a system of  computers amplifiers inside this aluminum casing   the computer is programmed with a  number of artificially created whistles   for different toys the dolphins might like to play  with dolphins have a lot of natural toys sarcasm   seagrass sea cucumbers so we've been  trying to label as many of those   natural toys as we can they use a scarf primarily  because they like to drag things and they're very   good at it that's what they do with sargassum  and it's something they have to ask us for   they can't go down to the local dolphin boutique  and buy a scarf so it kind of becomes oh i need   the human to get a scarf therefore maybe  I'll be motivated to communicate that word So the way it works is we're in the water  I can push a sound for example this is the   whistle for scarf this headset just said scarf  in english so I know that's the sound I played   now if the dolphins decide to mimic this whistle  they'll mimic it the computer will recognize it in   pretty close to real time and I'll hear the word  scarf in my headset dolphins when they greet each   other use their signage whistles so we thought  it'd be pretty cool to give ourselves a name So that's my name, Denise. Now we also have  some of their signature whistles on the computer  

that's Brat he's a little brat and  he's one of the players in the system   so we can greet him in his own name so we  thought that would be a start to trying   to communicate with the dolphins well the idea  is to empower the dolphins to communicate back   I wanted a tool where they could access us and  ask us to do things or request things from us   you have a couple researchers in the water  we're both wearing these underwater computers   and you're actually modeling the  communication system for the dolphins really requires not only good technology but  regular extended time with the same individual   dolphins so that they get exposed to the system  and start understanding the functionality of it   it's one thing to mimic a whistle it's another  thing to understand what the whistle can get you   the team discovered that juvenile dolphins  showed the most interest in the interaction   this is an age where they're kind of away from mom  they're not full adult responsible dolphins yet   so they have a lot of play time and so we have  about a four year window with individuals when   they're in that age (inaudible background noise)  research assistants from Georgia Tech joined the   scientists at sea to fine-tune and troubleshoot  the C.H.A.T. boxes that are built by the students   at the University making new interface devices  that are user friendly for marine biologists is   kind of challenging from the beginning so all  of our hardware is custom designed they use 3d   printers much of the time we also have machine  shops in Georgia Tech so they they're able to   mill the aluminum housings and then laser cut  the other plastic parts on a software side   dolphins present a very interesting challenge  because their range of vocalizations is so large   in terms of frequency so you have to sample  at a very high rate in terms of audio on the   computer so it requires a very fast processing and  efficient software on battery power with something   that has no internet or external connectivity  to the outside world so all of your processing   is on board whereas you know typical voice  recognition things like google now or siri or   doing some processing on the phone or the platform  and then sending it off to the internet to be   analyzed on a much more powerful computer we  have to do everything on the system all right   and that was a clip by the way from dolphins  breaking the code PBS' Changing Sea's used   with their permission and we thank them for that  as a matter of fact we thank PBS for being thank   God for PBS and joining us now to talk a little  bit more about his research is Thad Starner who   is from Georgia Tech as we said and has worked  with Denise for a long time and who's one of the   lead researchers on Google Glass correct and as  you can see right and Thad tell us a little bit   you know when you really start thinking about  the challenges of trying to get a computer that   is powerful enough to do what you needed to  do in real time and you know sort of provide a   translation if you will and making it submersible  and then on top of that have enough power to   project out enough acoustic enough of an  acoustic wave for the dolphin to even interpret   it's a huge challenge isn't it it was it was  monumental you know when Denise first told me   about this problem I was like you know I think  we can do that we'll take a look at and the   first summer was horrible um we killed so much  equipment from just trying to make it waterproof   well enough to handle the sea water uh we found  out that our hydrophones were not waterproof   you know so we're trying to put an equivalent  of a supercomputer in a box on the niece and not   have it blow up while she's interacting with the  dolphins and so far we've not had any major fires   at least when she's been playing with them  so that's good uh but it turns out the   the really the hardest thing was physics when  the Navy does this sort of work they have these   very large speakers and very powerful batteries  and and transducers and amplifiers that they do   and most of the amplifiers are on deck so what  we do is shrink everything down to a very small   form factor and very powerful get enough power in  the water to make that that sound go forward and   and we've recently had a breakthrough in  this this is something called "C.H.A.T. LITE"   this is the the modern version of the C.H.A.T.  system you saw and I don't think you'll be able  

to hear this but this can do the same sorry  thad that you've shrunk it down to that size   well this is this doesn't have the recording or  the recognition side this just has a playing size   but inside is a custom-made amplifier we basically  took the equivalent of your stereo amplifier   amped it up around the pun quite a bit and  mashed it with a speaker that can work well   in water which is surprisingly hard to do and put  in the small form factor and now this whole thing   can actually sit on Denise's wrist um and it's  something that she can take in on every time   she's with the dolphins as opposed to you know  requiring one of my phd students to be with her uh   every trip she wants to do it so we're going from  like a couple encounters a year with the dolphins   to something where we hope the knees can just have  this continuously there and expose them to the the   whistles the names we want to assign things like  the scarves or the pieces of rope or the seaweed   and so we're very excited about that this is  number five and we had our first successful test   of this thing this month um and whereas you  know the chat systems you saw on on stenella   with nice in that video clip they each cost  about uh the equivalent of a new car to make   um this costs about a tenth of that in parts  um it's still a lot of still a lot of labor but   it is something where we can make a lot  more of these and get them out there and   have replacement ones for Denise and you know  it also kind of has a sort of you know superhero aesthetic to it and you know since  Denise is our superhero I think we   should start giving her you know good  bracelets for it right totally totally   she is possessed with superpowers there's  no question well let me ask you this though   if you need it you know if the navy I'm sure the  navy does this for bad reasons we don't like but   if the navy idea is to put all the horsepower  on the surface and connect it with the cable   why not do that in this case or is that too much  of a constraint on their efforts well first of   all constrains the the researcher to the boat too  much and the dolphins really are moving around way   too much the other thing that we found out is  the dolphins really do not like these tethers   because they're they're worried about being snared  and that sort of thing so one of the things that   is our design constraint is we don't have wires  floating in the water um just often those will   just stay away if that if that happens so it's all  gonna be self-contained and we also need to make   it so that you know when when the nieces is having  researchers in the water calling for a scarf   that you know when one researcher calls  for it they can hand it to that researcher   then another researcher calls for it they can can  up that researcher i really want to be interactive   and socially modeling to the dolphins you  know here's the name for this object the scarf   if you want the scarf make the whistle and what  was really um astonishing is uh one of our trips   um a couple years ago we really did have something  that looked like you know actually several times   where it looked like uh the dolphins mimicking our  our word for i think was for sargassum um but the   thing is it was at a too higher frequency for us  to hear easily and also for the computer to hear   and so now we've been upping our horsepower on  our computers uh so that we can actually listen to   that whistle being made at any frequency doesn't  matter if it's in our hearing range or above   so that raises an important question there's a  fair amount of dolphin uh communication uh uh   vocalization whatever you want to call it that's  way out of our ability to hear so how how can   researchers um possibly get a handle on that well  i'm glad you asked that I think we have a couple   slides that show some dolphin vocalizations can we  pull up the first slide please one of the things   we see here I don't know if you can see the scale  um but uh this is only to 20 kilohertz oftentimes   we see dolphin vocalizations going up even into  the 200 kilohertz range um and so it's very hard   for us to analyze in the water but what we've  been doing is collecting lots of examples of   dolphin vocalizations in socially meaningful  scenarios from Denise's work for the past   33 years and looking for things that are similar  so if you look at these vocalizations here's these   three separate examples you can start seeing some  similar patterns in here but it's very hard for us   as humans to understand what these patterns mean  or if there's even some repetition here so what   we've done is created a a artificial intelligence  algorithm that looks at every little chunk   compared to every other little chunk and clusters  them together and says hey does this look like   you know the equivalent of the letter a or the  equivalent of letter b does it look like something   that is the the the same self self similarity so  if we have next slide please this is worked by   Daniel Kolsdorf who is was my Ph.D. student who's  now currently working with Wild Dolphin Project as   a side gig so what we're doing is just looking at  all this vocalization and figuring out little tiny   features which is what you see in the bottom left  here little tiny features that seem to be you know   uh throughout the the vocalization throughout the  spectrogram and then we put those together into   the equivalent of letters a b c d e f g etcetera  and that's what you see on the bottom right   um the uh we're clustering all the things look  similar so these are a b c d f this is up to g   now if we have the next slide please what we do  from there is take any given vocalization here   and we try to put them together explain them in  terms of the subs subpart so in this case it looks   like this vocalization was was a combination of  a i and e now of course these are just our human   labels to it we have no idea what this means  the dolphins yet but one of the things we start   doing though is look to see are these patterns  repeating and are they patterns repeating in   certain things like when they're doing aggression  or play fighting or when you have a mother calf   reunion where do these patterns are these are  these um letters or these patterns consistent   so if i have next slide if you would uh what we're  actually look uh did and what daniel dick cosdorf   did for his phd dissertation he's looked for  a large amount of vocalizations and clustered   them and saw if there was a grammar sort of a  language structure to this and what we discovered   much my surprise is that the more strict what's  called a regular s expression in computer science   was the one that best explained what we were  seeing and so in other words the dolphins really   are doing stuff that is consistent that has some  sort of consistent structure to it and now we're   trying to get to the stage we can say hey can we  actually um get finer and finer understanding for   those meetings now i'm not saying we're that far  yet what we've found is that for four categories   i think it was aggression play mother caffery  union and foraging we discovered very consistent   vocalizations that were common across those

2021-09-01 00:06

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