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acoustic marine drones to study cetaceans

He sails in the Mediterranean without anyone on board. Slender in shape and made of carbon, Sphirna is the first civil marine drone. Fabien Devarenne, the creator of the two drones, is focused because he programs the Sphirna route from a conventional boat. The two prototypes, 17 and 21 meters long, worth hundreds of thousands of euros, are completely energy self-sufficient.

The silent machines revolutionize the study of cetaceans. The five sensors placed under the hulls record the vocalizations of dolphins or sperm whales up to 2,000 meters deep, unheard of. “We what we will do in real time, we will download the files, listen to them, analyze them to detect if there are sperm whales”, explains Marina Oger, master student in acoustic biology. What scientists at the University of Toulon (Var) hear is a discussion of around twenty pilot whales, a species of dolphin or the vocalizations of a sperm whale on the hunt.

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