Deep Voice Expedition Chronicle
During August’s last week and September’s first, Costa Rica’s South Pacific region was unusually sunny and dry: something rare given the time of the year. It was the perfect weather to match the arrival of the Deep Voice team.
Deep Voice is an Israeli foundation focused on whale research, specifically on bioacoustics and artificial intelligence. The team is composed of engineers, physicists, artificial intelligence experts and marine biologists. The foundation has developed a complex algorithm capable of analyzing whale’s bioacoustics. The organization has made several expeditions in Mozambique and, this time around, it was the turn of the whales right off the Costa Rican shore.
Through the heavy input of audio data, Deep Voice is developing a software that will be able to detect the mammals’ dialects in order to better understand the population. The data will allow the detection of social calls and song changes throughout the years. The recollection of these patterns will amplify the understanding of these species and, ultimately, help to promote better conservation policies.
During the group’s visit, we went out into the open sea for thirteen consecutive days to collect data on humpback whales. We traveled mostly to the outskirts of Isla del Caño and near the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. During these two weeks of intense work, more than 40 hours of whale chants were recorded. Valuable drone footage for individuals’ photoidentification was taken as well. We also collected data for water quality studies, we were able to measure the depth in which these animals are found and observed the behavior of the whale population that migrates from the South Pacific during the period that goes from July to October.
As a result of this fruitful encounter, we improved our protocols for storing and recording whale chant audios. In addition, future findings and recordings will be mutually shared and further projects will surely arise. Hopefully, we’ll be able to repeat this expedition during the next humpback whale migration period (a different population coming from the North Pacific) and in the upcoming years. With consistency, determination and collaboration, this data will help to study patterns, modifications and behavior of the beloved giants of the ocean.