Taylor Hersh (Ph.D. Student): Despite our general knowledge of sperm whale dialects, the question of how dialects initially evolved, and how they may (or may not) be evolving today, remains enigmatic. Given extensive acoustic research efforts in both the Tropical Pacific and the Eastern Caribbean, sperm whale dialect evolution can now be feasibly investigated. The goal of my doctoral research is to elucidate the communicative mechanisms that allow sperm whales to evolve and maintain distinct dialects in varying degrees of sympatry.
Wilfried Beslin (M.Sc. Student): Sperm whale clicks have an unusual acoustic structure: they are composed of multiple pulses, where the inter-pulse interval (IPI) increases with whale size. This makes it possible to measure the lengths of individual sperm whales through passive acoustic monitoring. Unfortunately though, most clicks do not display a clear IPI, making the measurement difficult to automate. The goal of my thesis is to develop an algorithm capable of doing this by recognizing and removing unsuitable clicks. Ultimately, I hope to use this tool as a means of automatically identifying sperm whale units off Dominica.