The acoustic practical started early on July 4th. Our team gathered around the C-Pod, a device put underwater to record underwater sounds. We spent two hours listening to C-Pod data collected all over the world with several different sounds; including seals, cetaceans, whales, boats, and more.
This was the practical I was the most worried about. I was worried I wouldn't be able to identify the sounds or where they would take place, but our instructor was amazing. I was able to compare sound files from the C-Pod and from a list of noises on the laptop provided to us. Although it was difficult to identify some of them, most of them were fairly easy to recognize.
I've attached a link to my personal favorite sound we listened to- the Weddell Seal
This activity brought so many new lessons. We headed down to the boat dock with our instructor to observe the activity around the dock. To recreate this practical you just need a pair of binoculars, a timer, and the ability to judge distance. We set up in pairs along the edge of the dock with our binoculars. We took turns every 5 minutes for a total of 10 turns. Throughout the five minutes we would look around at each quadrant in front of us from right to left with the binoculars, and then for one minute we would look without binoculars.
We consistently saw the dolphin, Colin, as well as several birds and one jellyfish.Throughout our time observing the sea state was one, and the visibility was clear. We saw cetaceans and birds the entire time. We saw mainly sailboats at turns 1-6, 9, and 10. We saw a power boat at turn 8, and no boats at turn 7.
A breakdown of the sightings each turn:
1. cetacean, jellyfish, and shag
2. two shags, a seagull and a jellyfish
3. two seagulls and a black guillemot
4. shag, cormorant, seagull
5. shag, guillemot, seagull
6. cetacean, cormorant
7. cetacean, cormorant, seagull
8. two seagulls, cormorant, black guillemot
10. cetacean, guillemot, and cormorant
On the way back from the shore observation we were told to head into the shed for a surprise- which happened to be a seal pup!
Its mother abandoned it at the boat, so the other team brought him back and transported him to a seal rehabilitation center nearby. We jokingly named him Goofy.
I want to go back to Colin the Common Dolphin for a minute though, because his situation is fascinating. Colin somehow got separated from his pod and stayed in the water by a buoy right across from the Field Studies Council (FSC) in Millport. He swims back and forth between two buoys, occasionally bow-riding boats and posing for pictures. What's interesting about Colin though, is that he has managed to communicate with Harbor Porpoises. This is something FSC is currently studying.
We headed back to the dorms for a lecture and a movie- and then got ready for the pub quiz. The pub quiz is a competition between the three universities that includes their professors. On July 4th, in Scotland, team USA won the pub quiz!