Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

Explore Whale Songs and AI with Pattern Radio

Watch more with these video collections:

Pattern Radio: Whale Songs is a website that lets anyone use AI to explore thousands of hours of NOAA’s underwater ocean recordings. It’s a new kind of tool that visualizes audio at a vast scale and uses AI to make it easy to explore and make discoveries.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research oceanographer Dr. Ann Allen has worked with a team at Google to develop machine learning technology that recognizes humpback whale song. The collaboration has created an efficient alternative to her team manually scanning more than 170,000 hours of recordings from around the Pacific islands, a process that would take more than 19 years “if you were to sit and listen to all of that audio straight through.”

The Pattern Radio project has also opened more than 8,000 hours of that data up to the public for audio exploration. Discover humpback whale song, passing ships, and yet-to-be-identified underwater sounds. From Alexander Chen at Google:

In the middle of the site, you’ll see the sounds from NOAA’s underwater recordings shown as a spectrogram, a tool that helps you explore sound visually. Beneath the spectrogram is a heat map, which uses AI to help you navigate the data.

A spectrogram is a picture of sound. It shows the frequencies that make up the sound, from low to high, and how they change over time, from left to right. So, when a humpback whale is, for example, making sounds that rise upward in pitch, you’ll see those as upward shapes.

whale song frequencies
And why is listening for humpback whales important?

Listening to the ocean is one important way scientists can monitor hard-to-study animals, like whales. Whales and dolphins spend the majority of their life underwater and use sound as their primary means of communication, relying on acoustics for survival. This makes acoustic monitoring an ideal way to study them. For whales that make complex sounds, like the humpback, a greater understanding of when, where, why, and how they sing will help us learn more about their population, migration patterns, location, habits, health and more. All of this information is important to helping scientists make decisions about how to best protect the species.

Related listening at NPR: It Took A Musician’s Ear To Decode The Complex Song In Whale Calls.

Watch this next: Mapping whale songs in the South Pacific.

Then learn about these two related Google projects: A.I. Experiments: Bird Sounds and Will Computers Ever Hear Like People Do?

via Kottke.

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

Will Computers Ever Hear Like People Do?

Rion Nakaya

Why are algorithms called algorithms?

Rion Nakaya

Why (and how) do whales sing?

Rion Nakaya

What’s the fastest way to alphabetize your bookshelf?

Rion Nakaya

What happens when you send an email – The Story of Send

Rion Nakaya

What algorithmic trick solves Rubik’s Cubes and breaks ciphers?

Rion Nakaya

Up close and underwater as a humpback whale breaches

Rion Nakaya

Universal Calendar Puzzle: Figure out the day of the week for any date ever

Rion Nakaya

Two beautiful humpback whales dance

Rion Nakaya