Using sound to monitor the most mysterious realm of the ocean
A database of deep-sea soundscapes could provide researchers with baseline understanding of healthy, remote ecosystems. Sound could even single out the sounds of communities or even individual species.
The deep sea is difficult to visit and expensive to observe; underwater robots do not come cheap, but sound reigns supreme where it travels five times faster than in air. The hydrophone can pick up not just the noisy clicks of bickering dolphins but also the ambient hum of the deep-sea.
You need to know what the habitat sounds like when it’s healthy. When the soundscape has changed, the habitat may have changed, too.Chong Chen, a deep-sea biologist at Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, or JAMSTEC
Many deep-sea mining interests often overlap with biodiversity hot spots, such as sulphide-rich hydrothermal vents. We might know what a hydrothermal vent looks like, but what does it sound like? Soundscapes may offer long-distance cues to biodiversity change that would otherwise be invisible.