Hawaii is home to over 15 different whale species. More commonly, you will find species such as the Short-Finned Pilot whale, Dwarf Sperm whale and Beaked whales. From November through May, over 10,000 humpbacks migrate from the summer feeding grounds in Alaska to breed, birth, and nurse their young around the Hawaiian Islands. However, humpback whale count has declined by 50-80% over the past four years. There are many reasons behind the humpback whale declination; one cause is ship traffic and ship noise. Ships produce a predominantly low-frequency noise (<1000 Hz). Unfortunately, this interferes with the frequency range (30 Hz - 8,000 Hz) used by many whale species to communicate and echolocate . Ship noise from large cargo ships, like Matson, would force humpback whales to change their migratory patterns and have a negative impact on their breeding success. Maintaining diversity in whale population ensures the maintenance of genetic diversity in whale species, making them resilient to environmental changes. The purpose of my project is to differentiate formants to distinguish between different whale species.
 Southall, B. L., Scholik‐Schlomer, A. R., Hatch, L., Bergmann, T., Jasny, M., Metcalf, K., . . . Wright, A. J. (2017, March 06). Underwater Noise from Large Commercial Ships-International Collaboration for Noise Reduction. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/9781118476406.emoe056
 “Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program.” Port of Vancouver, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, 28 June 2019, www.portvancouver.com/echo.
 Hawaii Ocean Time-series (HOT). (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2019, from http://hahana.soest.hawaii.edu/hot/
 ALOHA Cabled Observatory. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2019, from http://aco-ssds.soest.hawaii.edu/
 Ocean Sound Library: Natural and Man-Made. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2019, from https://ocr.org/sound-library/
 Kingdon, Amorina. "Humpback Moms Need a Quiet Place to Nurse." Hakai Magazine 06 Mar. 2019: n. pag. Print.
Audio samples of different sounds were recorded by our community partner, the Aloha Cabled Observatory (ACO), and converted to wav. files. Using Matlab, code was written to take those wav. files and convert them into spectrograms, where frequency and intensity could be displayed as a function of time.
Matlab was successfully able to produce spectrograms of various different audio recordings. Figures 6, 7, and 8 illustrate frequency (0-14,000 Hz) over a given period of time. The computer was able to differentiate formants to distinguish between different whale species.
For future research, a program will be created specifically for computer-automated recognition of formants to differentiate between different whale species. This data recognition will automate whale count, track whale populations, exact migratory paths and help make a positive correlation between whale count and migration patterns, ship noise and rising ocean temperatures. We will also implement the use of active noise reduction to mitigate ship noise around the Hawaiian Islands.
I would like to thank the Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance Foundation (HCAF), Hawaiʻi Pre-Engineering Education Collaborative Phase II/Indigenous Knowledge in Engineering (PEEC II/IKE), Bridge to the Baccalaureate (B2B), and Dr. Aaron Hanai.