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Peter Tyack: The Intriguing Sound of Marine Mammals

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Peter Tyack of Woods Hole talks about a hidden wonder of the sea: underwater sound. Onstage at Mission Blue, he explains the amazing ways whales use sound and song to communicate across hundreds of miles of ocean.

Peter Tyack, a senior scientist in biology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has always been intrigued by animal behavior. A class at Woods Hole while still in college led Peter down his current path of research on acoustic communication and social behavior in marine mammals.

He has studied the songs of humpback whales, the signature whistles of dolphins and the echolocation pulses of sperm whales and dolphins. Tyack has pioneered several new methods to sample the behavior of these mammals, including the development of sound-and-orientation recording tags.

As a result of his work recording the sounds of whales, Tyack is concerned that the ubiquitous noises from human activity in the ocean -- sonar, oil rigs, motorboats, shipping traffic -- are disturbing marine mammals.

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