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Sound Recorders Discover Endangered Whales Off New York Harbor

WHAT: Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustics Research Program Director Christopher Clark and Science Director Aaron Rice share recordings and talk with the media about their discovery of endangered whales and other marine mammals frequenting New York Harbor.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 4, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the monthly Inside Cornell media luncheon.

WHERE: Cornell’s ILR Conference Center, sixth floor, 16 E. 34th St., Manhattan.

MEDIA NOTE: Media members are invited to attend this working lunch with Christopher Clark and Aaron Rice. To RSVP, please contact John Carberry at (607) 255-5353 or (607) 227-0767, or by e-mail at

ITHACA, N.Y. – A little more than two years ago a blue whale, one of the largest animals ever to live on earth, slipped through a newly placed net of underwater sound recorders submerged off Long Island by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustics Research Program, stunning researchers and begging the question – how many whales call New York Harbor home?

Now the answer is beginning to emerge from the acoustic fog off one of the world’s busiest seaports – endangered fin whales can be heard singing near the Verrazano Narrows, while further offshore the songs of blue and humpback whales and the calls of the highly endangered right whales resound – and a new question awaits policymakers in New York and New Jersey:

What should we do next?

On Wednesday, May 4, at Cornell’s ILR Conference Center in Midtown Manhattan, two researchers who have been leading the scientific rediscovery of large mammals off New York will share recordings and talk with members of the media about how the Big Apple can find ways to live with, and love, its whale neighbors.

Christopher Clark is the director of the Bioacoustics Research Program based at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He has overseen efforts to use underwater sound monitors to track and protect endangered whales off Boston, listened for the deep marine impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and directed the 2008-09 deployment of 13 recorders off Long Island to see if the North Atlantic’s great whales were once again calling New York home.

Aaron Rice is science director at the BRP, and has been working with Clark from Boston to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond to analyze underwater acoustics and identify the ways in which human activity in the sea has affected marine life.

Both scientists with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are now pursuing funds to deploy a new net of underwater acoustic monitors off New York to bring the voices of the great whales into the lives of New Yorkers, and enable business and government leaders to fashion informed policies that protect marine wildlife and facilitate commercial activities at this busy seaport.

About Inside Cornell: This event is part of a monthly series held in New York City featuring high-interest experts working at Cornell University's centers in Ithaca, Manhattan and around the world. The free, catered lunch sessions are on-the-record, and media members are welcome to record video and audio as desired.

John Carberry | Newswise Science News
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