Chris Clair Sr. Contributed photo

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s third presentation of their 24th annual Winter Speaker Series, Sonic Sea — Voices of the Deep, will feature Chris Clark Sr., scientist and senior researcher in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. This event, Friend’s third ever virtual meeting presentation, will be held via Zoom, to register, visit fomb.org.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, beginning with an hour-long showing of the award winning film “Sonic Sea,” followed by a presentation from Clark, an expert in the field of undersea bioacoustics, according to a news release from the Richmond-based conservation organization.

Far from quiet, the undersea world is awash in sound. Unfortunately, normal sounds whether species communication, geological or hydraulic in origin and necessity, have become increasingly drowned out by anthropogenic or man-made noise. Most, of this bioacoustic interference comes from three sources, shipping, military sonar activities and seismic exploration. The film is about underwater noise pollution and the harm it does to ecological communities.

The film will be followed by a presentation from Clark who appears in the film. Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life. But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. “Sonic Sea” is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution. The Natural Resources Defense Council made this important film available to Friends. Attendees may wish to watch the film on their own ($2.99) prior to the showing (no charge) and just join in at 8:05 p.m. for Clark’s presentation. To see the trailer and full viewing, visit sonicsea.org/watch-now.

Clark also is a part-time senior research scientist at Marine Acoustics, Inc. and director of scientific projects at Planet OS. He has a long history of successfully working at the interface between science, applied engineering, industry and regulations–all with the specific objectives of using science to understand the potential impacts of human activities on marine mammals and to inspire and enable the scientific conservation of marine wildlife and habitats.

Clark’s work in this field began in 1976 with his Ph.D. research on southern right whales off Argentina and continued in 1979 researching endangered bowhead whales off Point Barrow, Alaska. In Alaska he collaborated with William T. Ellison where they deployed sparse arrays of hydrophones to locate and track migrating bowheads. The use of bioacoustics was a new survey technique then for a discipline previously limited to visual observations.

In 1992, Clark was named chief marine mammal scientist for the U. S. Navy’s Whales ’93 dual-uses program and continued his Navy affiliations for many years of studying effects of sonar on marine mammals. His current research areas include studies on the potential chronic influence of cumulative man-made noise sources (e.g., commercial shipping and seismic airgun surveys) on large whale distributions, behaviors, and movements in different regions. Clark is concerned about the continued loss of marine animal acoustic habitat as a result of multiple anthropogenic noise sources operating over large scales for extended periods of time. He has published more than 200 papers and given innumerable presentations including a TED talk.

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay normally hosts their Winter Speaker Series through May, the second Wednesday of each month. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the current series is abridged and virtual. Speaker series presentations are free and open to the public. To see speaker biographies, full event schedules, video recordings of past presentations, become a member, and learn more about how to protect Merrymeeting Bay, visit fomb.org.

For more information, contact Friends at 207-666-3372 or [email protected].

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