Episode 8 – Sound effects: Noise and marine mammals

On this episode Rand Alotaibi, Lauren Mahoney, and Madena Mustafa talk about the negative impact that noise from ships and seismic surveys has on whales, with a special focus on the blue whale, the largest animal to ever live.  Rand, Lauren, and Madena consult marine mammal experts  to learn why sound in the ocean is such a big deal, and  to identify what we can do to help.

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Episode Hosts

Antonio Garcia headshot

Rand Alotaibi is a senior at Duke University majoring in Earth and Ocean Sciences with a certificate in Documentary Studies. She hopes to use storytelling to communicate science and connect people with nature.

Twitter: @alotaibirand

Lauren Mahoney

Madena Mustafa


Andrew Read head shot

Doug Nowacek, Randolph K. Repass and Sally Christine-Rodgers University Distinguished Professor of Conservation Technology in Environment and Engineering in the Nicholas School of the Environment

Dr. Nowacek is a professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and is the head of the Nowacek Bioacoustics and Engineering Lab. He specializes in cetacean bioacoustics and foraging behavior whilst also focusing on the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals and potential ways to mitigate these issues.


Andrew Read head shot

Nicola Quick, Ph.D.

Dr. Quick is a Research Scientist within the Read Lab at the Duke Marine Lab. Her professional experience spans both academic and commercial sectors where she has primarily been involved with projects concerning the acoustic behavior of marine mammals and the effects of anthropogenic noise on cetaceans.

Andrew Read head shot

Jeanne Shearer

Shearer is a Ph.D. student at the Nicholas School of the Environment pursuing a degree in Ecology. As a student, Shearer is advised by Andy Read in the Read Lab that primarily focuses on conservation biology. Her dissertation work aims to examine the fine-scale kinematics of foraging in three cetacean species.

Series Host

Lisa Campbell head shot

Dr. Reny Tyson Moore host the Whale Pod series. She is a broadly trained interdisciplinary behavioral ecologist with expertise in marine mammal bioacoustics, photographic-identification, population biology, and bio-logging tools and techniques. She is currently a staff scientist with Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program and a contractor for NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources through Ocean Associates Inc. Reny received her PhD from Duke University in Marine Science and Conservation, where she used high-resolution acoustic and movement tags to study the fine-scale foraging behaviors of humpback whales along the Antarctic Western Peninsula. Before this, Reny obtained her BSc and MSc from Florida State University where she examined nonlinearites in cetacean vocalizations and determined the abundance and community structure of bottlenose dolphins in the Big Bend of Florida. She went on to apply her skills as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Scientific Committee of Antarctic Science Fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Science, based at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia, and then as a postdoctoral scientist with the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. Reny has published or been a co-author on many peer- reviewed scientific articles, technical reports, conference papers, children’s books, and conference and workshop presentations. She also serves as a mentor and teacher for undergraduate and graduate students at various institutions, including the Duke University Marine Lab.

Supplemental material for this episode