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Jul 4, 2018 - Science and innovations
New acoustic technologies for communicating with marine mammals have been created in FEFU

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Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) began to study the sound signals with which marine mammals communicate. Researchers use specially designed sensors, sound generators, and hydrophones in their work. The study of the language of dolphins, belugas and pinnipeds in the Primorsky Oceanarium will allow creating acoustic systems for communicating with animals to train them more effectively.

According to Professor Vladimir Korochentsev, the Head of the Department of Instrumentation Engineering, FEFU School of Engineering, scientists study the acoustic signals produced by large marine animals in training and in everyday life—in nutrition, diseases, etc.—by using unique devices and software.

“For reading signals, we put on dolphins sensors in the form of caps, which neither cause pain nor harm animals. The acoustic signals taken from their brain are rather weak (in the frequency range from 0.01 to 40 Hertz), and we need to decipher them. So we can understand how dolphins perceive commands, how the feedback occurs with the coach. The crucial thing is the participation of a trainer who works with animals directly in the process of research. Such new approaches will allow us to create a system of biotechnological solutions for communicating with mammals,” said Vladimir Korochentsev.

A group of researchers from the FEFU School of Engineering works on the project. Associate Professor Sergey Gorovoy studies the sounds of animals with the help of hydrophones for decoding signals and software specially developed at the department. Assistant Professor Vasily Chernenko develops acoustic transmission systems for the trainer to control the behavior of animals under water. Associate Professor Albert Gorelikov conducts experiments on communication with dolphins with the help of acoustic signals.

“Dolphins are very intelligent animals, they have a complex language, they ‘speak’ very quickly, and therefore their ‘speech’ needs to be analyzed very carefully, given the subtle parameters of sound. That is why hydroacoustics is needed to study the language of marine animals. This is an interdisciplinary area that combines biology and physics,” said Albert Gorelikov.