MBARI hydrophone

MBARI's hydrophone

Ever wondered what it sounds like deep in Monterey Bay? Wonder no more. 

On April 24, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute announced it is now livestreaming on YouTube the sounds picked up by its hydrophone that MBARI scientists placed on the seafloor—18 miles offshore and 3,000 feet underwater—in 2015. 

"When we first listened to these recordings we thought they were wonderful, and we wanted to share them with the public," MBARI scientist John Ryan says in a statement. "I’m excited that we’ll finally have a chance to do this."

Though deep on the seafloor, most of the sounds picked up by the hydrophone, the statement says, are from higher up in the water column, and even at the surface.

The audio stream doesn't include high-pitched sounds beyond the level that humans can hear, but it does include very low-frequency sounds created by some whales. 

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In the event the audio stream is quiet—it often is—MBARI has set up an online "listening room" to hear pre-recorded sounds from the hydrophone. 

But it can even be worthwhile to leave the stream on when it's quiet.

"It can be quiet at times, and then go from quiet to cacophony in minutes," Ryan says in the statement. "So if people don’t hear much at one point in time, they should definitely check in again later."

MBARI researchers are working with other scientists to analyze the sounds and better understand the behavior of whales and other marine mammals. 

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