Peter Tyack studies the the social behavior and acoustic communication in whales and dolphins, learning how these animals use sound to perform critical activities, such as mating and locating food.
Peter Tyack, a senior scientist in biology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has always been intrigued by animal behavior. A class at Woods Hole while still in college led Peter down his current path of research on acoustic communication and social behavior in marine mammals.
He has studied the songs of humpback whales, the signature whistles of dolphins and the echolocation pulses of sperm whales and dolphins. Tyack has pioneered several new methods to sample the behavior of these mammals, including the development of sound-and-orientation recording tags.
As a result of his work recording the sounds of whales, Tyack is concerned that the ubiquitous noises from human activity in the ocean -- sonar, oil rigs, motorboats, shipping traffic -- are disturbing marine mammals.
“Humpback song is a form of animal culture, just like music for humans would be.”
“Marine mammals have evolved over the last tens of millions of years ways to depend on sound to both explore their world and stay in touch with one another.”