Listening lines

What if we could increase cetacean monitoring capacity by combining affordable acoustics and citizen science?

Acoustics is an expensive field of whale research. Hydrophones and associated deployment gear are very expensive, and the probability of losing equipment is relatively high. As an alternative to the standard equipment, in 2021 we were fortunate to use a new hydrophone called a HydroMoth, produced by Open Acoustic Devices. They are small, very easy to use and very affordable.

Due to their size and low cost, we started to consider novel applications for HydroMoths. In particular, we were keen to incorporate acoustics into citizen science efforts. As a result, this year we will start ‘Listening Lines’, a project that aims to explore the potential for deploying HydroMoths on static fishing gears to increase cetacean monitoring capacity. We’ll start our work in St Abbs, Southeast Scotland, as part of a dissertation by Sarah Kane, an MSc Marine Systems and Policies student from the University of Edinburgh. We are collaborating with the University of Edinburgh’s Changing Oceans Group, St Abbs Marine Station and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

We’ll continue to update this page as the project develops.