Since working with Archipelagos, specifically on a project monitoring the bioacoustics of cetaceans, Bethan Jones has developed an admiration for how cetaceans communicate. As a member of the marine mammal team, she is specialising in burst pulses (a series of rapid clicks) looking specifically at the Delphinus delphis (Common Dolphin) and Tursiops truncatus (Bottlenose Dolphin). These species rely on underwater sounds including echolocation clicks which are short broadband clicks essential for navigation and foraging for food.
The marine mammal team is currently focusing on several bioacoustics projects, however this particular project, was designed to understand the vocal behaviour of these cetaceans, including communication and mapping of the distribution of these species. A typical day for Beth involves analysing hydrophone recordings collected from September 2017 until September 2018 in order to pinpoint the burst pulses for Common Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin. “Once I have found the burst pulses, I am recording the different measurements of each one. The duration, the inter-click interval (time between the clicks), repetition rate (how many clicks within a second) bandwidth 90% (the bandwidth of the click) rms amplitude and harmonics. They are also measured in different frequencies, minimum frequency, peak frequency and interquartile frequency.” After identifying and categorising the specific category of burst pulses they are, she compares the two species Common Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin.
Beth is studying biological sciences at Cardiff University, Beth secured her 10 month placement at Archipelagos, and currently has 2 months remaining. She claims “it has been useful working for a longer period of time, as it gave me more time to work out what projects are happening and then focus on something I’m passionate about.” One particular aspect of the internship Beth likes is the opportunity to work on multiple projects, “I really like the flexibility.” Other marine mammal surveys she is involved with at Archipelagos include the Monk seal observational survey, a twice daily survey used to monitor the abundance of this endangered species.
Eight months into her internship, Beth reflects on the new skills she has acquired, “I had never worked with bioacoustics before, but I know quite a lot about it now, for instance using RavenPro, a software I am now proficient in.” In addition to working on time management skills, Beth has developed important field research techniques such as using the hydrophone array system– a sophisticated microphone designed to be used underwater for recording and monitoring of underwater sounds. As well as this she has developed observational skills essential for boat surveys and also are transferable to other marine mammal surveys. Generally, Beth prefers the field work aspects of her project, “I really enjoying being out on the boat, it’s nice to get out of the office, especially as sitting through the hydrophone recordings can be repetitive.”
When asked about any significant results Beth responded “I’m still in the analysis stage so I haven’t got concrete results yet, however burst pulses are under researched therefore any research on burst pulses will be useful.” The findings will work as a great baseline for future work to build upon, regarding the communication between cetaceans and assessing what impacts the way they communicate. After Archipelagos, Beth intends to finish her degree and move on to do further conservation work.