Eavesdropping on Whales in The High Arctic
Published:17 Jul.2022    Source:Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Whales are huge, but they live in an even larger environment -- the world's oceans. Researchers use a range of tools to study their whereabouts, including satellite tracking, aerial surveys, sightings and deploying individual hydrophones to listen for their calls.But now, for the first time ever, researchers have succeeded in passively listening to whales -- essentially, eavesdropping on them -- using existing underwater fibre optic cables.

The technique, called Distributed Acoustic Sensing, or DAS, uses an instrument called an interrogator to tap into a fibre optic system, turning unused, extra fibres in the cable into a long virtual array of hydrophones. The research was conducted in the Svalbard archipelago, in an area called Isfjorden, where baleen whales, such as blue whales, are known to forage during the summer.