Blue whale ‘heard’ singing off New York coast

May 30th, 2009 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 30 (IANS) Acoustic experts confirmed tracking a singing blue whale 112 km off the Long Island and New York City early this year, even as the second one was heard singing in the far distance.
“These endangered blue whales are the largest animals ever to have lived on this planet, and their voices can travel across an ocean. It’s just amazing to hear one singing out there on New York’s ocean stage only tens of miles from Carnegie Hall and Broadway!” said Christopher Clark, director of Cornell University (CU) Bio-acoustics Research Program (BRP).

“Blue whales were almost hunted to extinction by the middle of the 20th Century, and the fact that now we’re finding them migrating not far off our shores is truly remarkable,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis.

During 2008-2009, 10 of Cornell’s acoustic recorders were deployed about 13 miles from the New York harbour entrance and off the shores of Fire Island to study the acoustic environment of New York waters and examine whether noises, including shipping traffic, are affecting the whales.

By knowing the whales’ seasonal presence, New York state policymakers can make critical conservation decisions to help protect blue whales by developing management plans to avoid ship collisions with whales and reduce noises that interfere with their communications.

The acoustic monitoring was initiated from March through mid-May of 2008 to record the northward migration of right whales from their calving grounds off the Florida eastern coast to their feeding grounds off Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, said a CU release.

Cornell scientists and DEC are able to monitor and provide specific data on the species that are detected, including when and where they occur in New York waters throughout the year.

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