Recording Nature’s Sounds


If you regularly watch TV or nature documentaries about Whales, Dolphins and other sea creatures, then you probably have heard DolphinEar hydrophones in action. They are used by BBC Natural History Unit , Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, CNN, many other prestigious media organisations around the world. However, it’s the explorers of Natural Soundscapes who are not quite as familiar. These explorers are the experts who possess the key ingredient of curiousity combined with creativity and technical skill that have opened up an entirely new world that we can all enjoy.  Here are a few examples of their work:


Chris Watson, who has worked on David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet and Life in the Undergrowth, shares a remarkable insight into sound recording … I love that aspect of fishing for sound underwater or putting geophones or hydrophones in glaciers, or underground” says Watson. (RadioTimes)

Watch The Colour of Sound VIDEO of Chris Watson in action using a pair of DolphinEar PRO hydrophones while talking about his fascination with natural sounds.









The sound of ants in winter: “Then after relocating to the Northumberland Wildlife Trust Reserve, a mixed coniferous and deciduous woodland in the valley of Holystone burn, in bright sunshine, now calm, colder, but superbly clear conditions. We located a hairy wood ant’s nest after some alarm that our initial nest sites had been destroyed by forestry logging operations, and we carefully inserted 2 Dolphin

Ear Pro hydrophones into the nest, approximately 20 cms into the main body of the nest on the south-facing side.”

The nest was completely covered in snow and apparently inactive. We returned 15 minutes later to allow settlement and expecting more activity as the sun shone directly onto the nest. Listening revealed surprising levels of activity, despite the cold, but there were no visible signs of the occupants of the nest!”

“Conclusion: although the activity sounded close, further listening seemed to indicate that the ants were deeper underground that we thought, after a protracted period of cold. They were not near the surface as first thought.”

Chris Watson and  Jana Winderen

EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC – Kent Macpherson – Sound Art & Research


“As a composer and instrumentalist, I have always leaned toward colour and texture over traditional composition methods. In my role as a researcher at Wintec, I have been fortunate enough to indulge this desire to record and manipulate sound sourced from unfamiliar environments.

“By utilising hydrophones, I am able to make subaquatic and subterranean recordings with huge amounts of detail. The recording below is from a live performance utilising the same 5 minute underwater recording from Merri Creek in Melbourne, Australia. The source sound is processed using Native Instruments Guitar Rig software and Curtis by The Strange Agency.

“The hydrophones I use are Dolphin Ear Pro. My recordings are captured on a Zoom H2. This recording captures one of twelve, twenty minute improvised performances created as part of the 14th Liquid Architecture sound art festival in Melbourne, Australia. The performances consisted of 4 x 5 minute manipulations of the same subaquatic recording from Merri creek.

“The performances were presented in the RMIT reverberation chamber. 150 tonnes of concrete structure isolated from any solid structures. 115 cubic metres of reflection and diffusion. The recording was taken directly from the mixing console and then an impulse response from the chamber was used to recreate the sonic behaviour of the space.”



The Bubbling Beach  17 August, 2011

Here’s a novelty…

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


Try your own recordings. DolphinEar hydrophones have been used in all kinds of field recording sessions – from listening to meerkats and other burrowing animals to hearing the ‘music’ created as the wind blows over a field of wheat. The possibilities are limited only by your own imagination. Explore the world of hidden sounds!