Follow the Music

Kim Davenport, CNC Visitor Services Associate

Our view of the natural world changes based on what we see and hear within an environment. The view and sound below the water provides a unique experience. Factors such as water density, temperature, and pressure help sound waves travel much farther in water than they do in air. Animals, such as whales, take advantage of this by broadcasting their calls over a far greater area than they could through the air. Animals, such as whales, take advantage of this by broadcasting their calls over a far greater area than they could through the air. For instance, the low frequencies emitted by blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) can travel thousands of miles.

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Whales are able to determine where others of their kind are in order to coordinate seasonal migrations or to find a potential mate, even if they are many miles apart from one another. Sounds help dolphins navigate and find food in murky waters. Dolphins use a technique called “echolocation.” A dolphin emits high frequency clicks from its nasal passages which then are amplified through a fatty mass on the forehead called the “melon.” Sound waves bounce off an object, such as a fish, and are picked up in fatty tissue in the dolphin’s lower jaw. The dolphin finds the object by determining how fast the clicks return. Humans have studied echolocation and have developed Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR) to help with mapping depth and finding objects in bodies of water. Fishing boats also use SONAR in order to find schools of tuna or other fish. SONAR, however, has been known to confuse dolphins as they can respond to the artificial signals and risk collisions with boats and submarines or become entangled in the nets used by fisherman. The U.S. Navy has agreed to reduce the use of SONAR during training exercises.

The Mission of the Chattahoochee Nature Center is to connect people with nature. Learn more at www.chattnaturecenter.org.