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UnDisciplined: Scientists can now eavesdrop on whales

Andrew Sutton / Shutterstock via BBC Earth

Humans have long exploited whales for their meat and oil, driving some species close to extinction. 50 years ago, scientists began recording whale sounds catalyzing a much needed turn towards their conservation. However, the increased noise from ships and submarines sonar and the world's oceans may have alarming impacts on whales ability to communicate. A breakthrough approach in marine acoustics that uses existing systems of underwater fiber optics now allow scientists to eavesdrop on whales. This innovative approach may reveal new insights about these beautiful and awe-inspiring animals.

Léa Bouffaut is a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University.

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