Project CETI (Cetacean Translation Initiative) is bringing together a unique team of scientists and technologists to study the communication of sperm whales. Over the next five years, Project CETI will seek to understand sperm whales on a level never before achieved. Using advanced machine learning and state-of-the-art noninvasive robotics, the team will listen to and translate the communication of these majestic creatures. And perhaps even talk back.
Main photo caption: Sperm whales are the animal with the biggest brain on our planet, and they have a sophisticated communication system. / Amanda Cotton
Project CETI has completed designing its core “whale listening” station that will collect sperm whale sounds and communication over a 20-square-kilometer radius. Having secured government approval to install this system off the coast of Dominica, CETI has begun engineering the technology that will provide an unprecedented, industrial-grade, 24/7 dataset on whale social networks.
Project CETI has entered into a partnership with the National Geographic Society, leveraging their media amplification platforms and their extensive expertise in video and audio capture from animals in natural environments. Together, they have begun creating novel on-whale video and audio tags that will provide high resolution information on whale communication and behavior, including language acquisition from mother to calf.
Project CETI has begun designing the Dominica Whale AdVocacy Education & Empowerment Program (WAVE), a program that aims to increase female representation across marine related professions by eliminating structural barriers to participation and marine research.
A Peek at Project CETI’s Key Technology
Drifting hydrophones that listen to whales can be deployed by drones.
A rough sketch of a hydrophone integration — the idea is to use four hydrophones on the tag to localize the sound source.
This family of CETI buoys, fabricated by GERG for the TABS program, includes a 3 meter discus buoy, 2.25 meter discus buoys, TABS I and TABS II buoys, a 1.4 meter coastal monitoring buoy and a quick response responder buoy. Together, they form a whale listening system.
“What we are attempting is truly ‘audacious’ — we’re embarking on one of the largest interspecies communication and animal listening projects in history. At this moment of global instability, Project CETI’s journey to bring us closer to nature, and to collectively build a more resilient and connected future, feels more relevant than ever.”