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Pan Pacific Hotel

207 Adelaide Terrace

Perth, WA 6000

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Sound Science in the Swan

Sound travels well in water and, as a result, the underwater world can be a bustling place full of amazing sounds, like dolphin whistles, fish grunts and boat engine roars. The Swan River is no exception. Aquatic animals often use sound as their primary sensory system and predominant form of communication, while humans use sound to explore the underwater environment and also often produce noise as a by-product of our other activities. The Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University has been working in underwater acoustics for over 25 years with multiple studies in the Swan River, both to investigate components of the ecosystem and to develop techniques for use in more complex environments.

Underwater acoustic monitoring provides alternative, complementary and sometimes the only information of what is going on beneath the surface, by using machines that go ‘ping’ or underwater microphones to observe the environment and fauna within it. This can be important for ecosystems where sound is the key method of obtaining information for a high proportion of species. Understanding the noise we create and how this influences the ‘soundscape’ and the animals within it is often the only way we can begin to mitigate the impacts that our actions have on the underwater environment. And when the animals communicate, well, this is our opportunity to hear them, count them, observe their behaviour and get information on their distribution and responses to our activities.

At this evening’s seminar, we would like to bring the underwater world of the Swan River to you by inviting you to hear about some of the research we have carried out over the years. First, we will explore what you can find on the bottom of the Swan River with Dr. Iain Parnum, looking at how we can map the topography, its habitats, and the odd wreck. Next, Dr. Miles Parsons will play you some of the sounds humans produce, as they would be heard underwater, whether from planes, trains and automobiles, or speedboats, jetskis and electric ferries. He will also give a brief insight into how these sounds can impact aquatic fauna and what we typically do to minimise this impact. Dr. Sarah Marley will then show you some of the underwater sounds produced from construction and how the Swan River dolphin community respond to this noise as well as highlighting some of her recent PhD work looking at behaviours and sounds of the dolphins in relation to the different parts of the river. Finally, Dr. Miles Parsons will explore the behaviours of the Swan River’s mulloway (fish) and how we can combine different techniques to listen and acoustically ‘see’ them.

So if you would like to know what a dolphin hears when it’s being overtaken by a hasty vessel, or listen to a group of mulloway play a game of ‘who can shout the loudest?’, please come along to the Pan Pacific Hotel on the 20th November to play ‘What’s that sound?’ with the rest of us.

This event is supported by Acoustics2017, the annual conference of the Australian Acoustical Society.

The speakers:

Dr. Miles Parsons is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology focussed on the use of acoustic techniques to study fish aggregations and the impacts of sound on marine species.

Dr. Iain Parnum is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology focussed on acoustic remote sensing of the underwater environment.

Dr. Sarah Marley is the latest doctoral graduate from the CMST group. Winner of the inaugural Asia-Pacific Three-minute thesis competition, Sarah has communicated her work on dolphin communication in the Swan River and Roebuck Bay to the public all around the world.

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Pan Pacific Hotel

207 Adelaide Terrace

Perth, WA 6000

Australia

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