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Cetacean Conservation: An Oceanic Sound Model

David de la Haye, School of Arts & Cultures

For 15 years, citizen-scientists with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust have collected visual and acoustic data on cetacean movements and noise pollution, providing enough evidence to policy makers to help identify Marine Protected Areas. NetTag (developed at Newcastle University) is a revolutionary underwater acoustic communication technology, currently used to locate missing fishing equipment whilst reducing marine waste and cetacean entrapment.

This experimental project intercepts the acoustic data collected by both groups to generate a sound installation that crosses Marine Science, Bioacoustics, Electronic Engineering and Digital Arts. It invites listeners to take an oceanic perspective and feel a part of our oceans rather than feeling apart from them.

The original plan was to design a bespoke dome to immerse listeners within underwater audio recordings that swim around the ears using 360 ambisonic decoding. This concept was thrown overboard when the pandemic restricted close social proximity.

However, global events taking place for World Oceans Day 2020 provided the catalyst for putting together an online version of the project complete with text, images, video footage and research articles that inform the sonic work.

An invitation from the Technicians Partnership Conference, a national event organised by the Science Council, provided the opportunity to give a keynote presentation on my experiences aboard the ten day citizen-science trip and share a selection of field recordings.

Other outcomes include a live performance for the LIVE in the King’s Hall concert series and a BBC Radio Scotland podcast. The work is due to be installed at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Arts from 28th November 2020 until 14th March 2021.


This project was funded by an Institute for Creative Arts Practice Pioneer Award 2019

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences