Home Tech Science From Porpoise Detectors to 'Hawkeyes', How Technology Empowers Ecology

From Porpoise Detectors to ‘Hawkeyes’, How Technology Empowers Ecology

On a heat winter afternoon as I unpacked my gear onto a small wood boat, one in all my curious assistants approached me asking what was the pink torch that I used to be holding. “It’s not a torch,” I said unexpectedly, checking if my survey sheet was in place. “It is a depth meter… umm… Depth dekhar jonno… (to look at the depth).”

Perhaps overwhelmed by my sense of urgency he moved back and let me proceed my work. Soon, I jumped onto the boat, and was on my first survey of the River Ganga, at Farakka in West Bengal. Farakka, a small city in central Bengal, sits in addition to NH34, bustling with heavy motion of site visitors and other people all day lengthy. It is probably the last place a layman would think about a wildlife researcher to be in. Yet there I used to be, on a motored wood boat in the course of the huge Ganga, always dipping my depth meter within the water, recording its ing and in search of Ganges river dolphins on the identical time.

‘What are you writing?’ requested the curious man once more as our boat – barely large enough for 5 individuals – rocked on crashing waves.

“Depth. Goirahi.” I instructed him.

“Hmm… goirahi ki kore deikhen?” he requested and instantly I had realised the subtleties of talking a non-native language. He wished to know the way I used to be ‘trying’ on the depth.

I slowly defined to him that it’s not light that the device makes use of, however sound. Sound – too excessive in frequency for us to hear – is emitted by one finish of the depth meter and its reflection from the underside of the river is acquired by an acoustic sensor on the identical finish. Since the velocity of sound in water is understood, the time elapsed between emitting this sound and sensing its reflection is translated into the gap travelled or depth – goirahi.

He seemed confused by the main points, however avoided asking any following questions.

As a scholar of curiosity, I like its different disciples. Therefore, on our journey forward, I took to explaining him one thing a bit of less complicated – a handheld GPS device. A device becoming in my palm, housing a uninteresting colored 2.2-inch TFT display alongside a tiny joystick to navigate its menu.

It is a reasonably frequent device utilized by all types of individuals all around the world to report their positions, navigate landscapes and a lot extra. It works similar to the GPS on a smartphone utilized by purposes like Google Maps, however is designed to work in harsher and extra rugged environments, additionally providing loads of battery backup. After I had defined it to my assistant, he would typically take a look at the odometer at display on it, and scream atop the engine noise concerning the distance that we had travelled to date. His pals on the rear finish of the boat had been equally completely satisfied to obtain the news. Perhaps it was a brand new manner of trying on the river — that that they had grown up round — that stuffed them with fascination.

At the survey’s finish, as we stood on the dock discussing future plans, my assistants had been calm and completely satisfied. They by now might higher visualise the river in a 3rd dimension, fairly precisely.

A number of days after some consecutive surveys, I had turn out to be good pals with my assistants. I instructed them to be y on the Ghaat on a chilly December morning; I used to be bringing the CPOD with me.
Surveys are important to know the place dolphins are at some extent in time, however it’s not possible to know the way they transfer all all through the day. Do they keep in shut proximity to one spot? Or do they transfer so much? To know this, one would have to sit on a still boat for the entire day, and report dolphins as they floor to breathe. This after all can be a tiring job! But that is precisely what the CPOD does, with minimal problems and biases.

CPOD VLIZ dolphin detector

A Cetacean – POrpoise Detector information the parameters of the vocal sign of a dolphin.
Just as we communicate in sentences made up of phrases, river dolphins talk in lengthy trains made up of clicks, which have sure properties like frequency, SPL (loudness) and so forth. A CPOD information these parameters together with time. Therefore, in impact it turns into like a watchman who’s all the time on alert for dolphins. Since it’s a passive logger, it doesn’t have an effect on the animals.

Just like this, a lot of what researchers do is easy conceptually. It is the interpretation of their ideas into actuality that’s advanced. How precisely do you utilize a watchman underwater? In truth, the standard of analysis one does is contingent on the standard of this translation, the gear employed and the strategies used. Growing expertise and regular entry to it’s steadily reworking the best way we take a look at our environment. 

In truth, there are a lot of fascinating units that researchers use to observe and perceive the world. One such device that excited my assistants greater than ever was the Chart-plotter. It works on the identical precept because the depth meter and is used to ‘see’ underwater, similar to how a paediatrician ‘sees’ and assesses a foetus inside a womb. With this, river qualities like its form, presence of fish and so forth could be higher understood.

Improving applied sciences are closely empowering analysis, but one should all the time keep in mind that any gadget used is just nearly as good as its person. With correct logic and motivation, yow will discover new methods to take a look at the identical outdated things. So all the time keep curious; your observations could sometime change the world.

Imran Samad is an engineer turned wildlife biologist who’s fascinated by the character of nature. He is at present enrolled within the M.Sc. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at NCBS, Bangalore, the place he’s finding out cetaceans. He additionally loves to write poetry on his weblog.


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