Climate Change


The reality of climate change is hard to communicate. It has been done largely in scientific terms with numbers, charts and graphs. Until recently with the extreme weather events that have occurred worldwide, our direct experience with climate change has been limited. Even now there are questions in the minds of many as to how real it is and how reliable are the warnings of scientists.  We have evidence of the extreme changes occurring in the Arctic  and Greenland regions. One worry is what happens as the permafrost regions begin to thaw. Contained within them are billions of tonnes of sequestered carbon dioxide and methane. Both are greenhouse gases, but methane (CH4) is about 23 times more potent than CO2. This is an important tipping point that will have enormous climate impact. Yet, how do we communicate the importance of what is happening in the arctic to the general public?

Below we have two examples that DolphinEar users have found that could be useful in the struggle to communicate the fact that changes in the Earth’s atmosphere are active and increasing …


Methane (CH4) is released as organic matter decays in an oxygen free environment. It is why landfill sites now have methane recovery systems to capture the gases from the enormous amounts of organic waste we dump every day. This process occurs everywhere.

Here is a report and a recording from a DolphinEar user. Listen to it. We think it’s one of the most alarming and important recordings we have heard in years. The activity you can hear from just a few kilos of seaweed decomposition is astounding.

Just think of the potential impact of methane release from the organic deposits in the Arctic that have been safely frozen for millions of years.


The Bubbling Beach  

I was recording this morning at Hauxley, Northumberland (warm and sunny, nice whimbrel, knot and roseate terns – shame about the F-15s) when I noticed that the beach around me was making a significant contribution to the soundscape.

At first I thought that the bubbling noise was coming from lugworm burrows, but then I realised that I’d never heard lugworm burrows make a noise, and that the sound was coming from just a small area of beach.

Closer inspection revealed that the sand had covered a mass of fermenting kelp, that was producing a constant stream of foul-smelling gas bubbles through the sand.

So I dug a hole for my DolphinEar Pro hydrophone, and this is the result:

Fermenting seaweed  Isn’t Nature wonderful!

“Osprey” blog


Several years ago, well known Scottish artist Katie Paterson came to us looking for help on a new project. She wanted to listen to the sound of a melting glacier and let people experience these sounds in real time.- as it happened.  We built a custom DolphinEar wireless system to make that project a reality and people from over 130 countries dialed into it from their home and mobile phones to hear the sounds of a melting glacier with their own ears.

What they heard (listen yourself) was the sound of the popping of ancient air bubbles compressed and frozen into the ice thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of years ago. As the ice melts, the compressed air is released suddenly as a ‘pop’. That’s what you are hearing.

But those bubbles also tell another story. By listening to the number and pitch of those bubbles we can estimate the rate of melting. What was surprising is that we saw very little difference between the popping rate when we compared recordings made during the summer and winter periods.  We would have expected the melt rate to be very much lower in the cold winter months. But it wasn’t.

This project also proved you could use weak mobile telephone signals in remote areas of the world to provide useful climate and monitoring data. Access from anywhere in the world is as simple as dialing a telephone number!

Aquariums and Aquatic Educational Centers

Large aquariums have been using DolphinEar hydrophones since we started making them 15 years ago. It adds a new and unexpected dimension to their exhibits and gives the public a much better understanding of how important sound is to aquatic life. Many sea life and aquatic educational centers use one or more DolphinEar DE200’s on field trips and nature walks. It’s a perfect companion for group canoe or kayak outings whether in narrow streams or open coastal waters. Guides can record sounds they encounter and re-use them in displays to educate the public at their main facilities, or on a road show to promote their activities and conservation efforts.




Parks & Nature Reserves

Parks and Nature Reserves use DolphinEar DE200’s as part of their interpretive sign display. A sign is constructed with a speaker, DolphinEar DE200 , and battery embedded in it while the hydrophone cable is fed through appropriate conduit into the area where sounds are located. A push button marked “LISTEN” turns on the sound for visitors to hear. While usually deployed by a pond, lake, stream or inlet, these installations have also been used to eavesdrop on animals in burrows, ants in nests, natural and manmade sounds conducted through the soil.