© Isabelle Charrier

© Isabelle Charrier


Comparative bioacoustics III: Marine Mammals (Week 5, 3 ECTS)

In this module we will review the production/perception, nature and function of acoustic signals in marine mammals (pinnipeds and cetaceans) as well as the impact of noise. We will describe the different types of acoustic signals produced by pinnipeds, odontocetes and mysticetes, and the anatomical basis of their production. We will see their hearing abilities, and review the impact of noise on their general behaviour and vocal production. We will also present the new technologies used to study marine mammal vocal behaviour, from passive to active monitoring, and the analysis methods linked to these monitoring tools (PAM and tags). During the practical sessions, we will use sound analysis software such as Seewave, Avisoft and Raven. 

Research talks on pinniped and cetacean acoustic communication networks and noise impact will expose you directly to current research.


Learning outcomes


By the end of the module, a successful student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how acoustic signals of marine mammals are produced, structured and perceived;

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of noise impact on marine mammals

  3. Demonstrate a good understanding of tools for analysing marine mammal vocalisations

  4. Demonstrate a good understanding of scientific devices that can be used to study marine mammal behaviour (PAM and tags).


2022 Provisional Schedule

Monday 10th October

Morning Lecture: Description of marine mammal vocalisations and assessment of their biological function using playback experiments. Case-study focused on Pinnipeds (Isabelle Charrier).

Afternoon Practical: Analysis of marine mammal vocalisations and vocal signatures (from acoustic to statistical analysis) (Denise Risch with I. Charrier).

Assignment of scientific papers that will be presented on Friday (1/student).


Tuesday 11th October

Morning Lecture: Vocal production in cetaceans, and comparison of vocal apparatus between odontocetes and Mysticetes (Olivier Adam).

Afternoon Lecture: Hearing in pinnipeds and cetaceans. Videoconference by C. Reichmuth (evening).


Wednesday 12th October

Morning Lecture: Presentation of standard and new technologies used to study marine mammals (behaviour and vocal production). Impact of noise on marine mammals. Study case on cetacean species (Charlotte Curé)

Afternoon Practical: Analysis of multi-sensor tag data (Saana Isojunno and Paul Wensveen(visio)).


Thursday 13th October

Morning Lecture: Presentation of passive acoustic monitoring methods for cetaceans (Flore Samaran).

Afternoon Practical: Analysis methods in passive acoustic monitoring (Flore Samaran & tutor).


Friday 14th October

Morning: Research talks and supervised study time.

Afternoon: Oral presentations of scientific papers.









© Isabelle Charrier

© Charlotte Curé (3S project-baseline cruise)


The final mark will be based on the oral presentation of a scientific paper (duration = 10 min + 5 min questions).


Organisers: Isabelle Charrier & Charlotte Curé

Tutors: Olivier Adam, Flore Samaran.

Demonstrators: Mathilde Massenet, Chloé Huetz.

Confirmed Guests speakers: Colleen Reichmuth, Saana Isojunno, Paul Wensveen, Denise Risch.

Possible Guest Tutors: Fleur Visser.