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A group of six ocean engineering students at the University of Rhode Island has developed an acoustic device that successfully detects the sounds made by whales and other marine mammals in the vicinity of the Block Island Wind Farm.
The students call their device MARIMBA or Marine Mammal Monitoring at Block Island Using Acoustics. In November, the students traveled to the wind farm to collect baseline measurements of the underwater noise in the vicinity and to determine the optimal location to place their device. After spending the winter engineering all of the elements of the device and the communications platform, they deployed two units in Block Island Sound for two weeks in late March and early April. They retrieved them from aboard the R/V Endeavor on April 12. They also collected oceanographic measurements and samples of the seafloor sediments to better understand the environment from which the device was operating. There was a sound file every minute for two weeks, times two because they had two units. They heard a lot of dolphins, and some sei whales and they might have detected a fin whale too.
The students who developed the device are Drew Adams, Jake Bonney, Garrett Connelly, Max Fullmer, Luke Puk and Brendan Read. URI Ocean Engineering Professor James Miller was the advisor.
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