Otago Polytechnic

Sonic communication is critical for whales and dolphins, both socially and in terms of echo-location - and there’s evidence the noises from shipping, underwater drilling and sonic blasting are having a detrimental impact on these animals.

Sounding is a Dunedin art project involving a series of community events over three weeks, investigating the connections between underwater noise pollution and the whales and dolphins living off the coast of Otago. It is the work of Otago Polytechnic Academic Leader: Communication Design, Associate Professor Caro McCaw; West Coast artist, Vicki Smith; Taranaki internet-of-things enthusiast Andrew Hornblow; sound artist Leyton Glen; University of Otago Professors Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson; and performance choreographer Katrina Thomson.

“Sounding employs playful interaction to help us better understand our marine mammals’ sonic environment and echo-location behaviours,” Caro explains, “and the effects of noise disruption in our oceans.”

The exhibitions involve social games and installation, and the performances, both incidental and choreographed, employ electronically-enhanced umbrellas. These augmented umbrellas have attachments shaped like whales’ ear bones that will transmit whale communication sounds around Dunedin’s WiFi hotspots – or ‘WiFi oceans’ as they’ve been named by the artists.

While Sounding is both fun and illuminating, its aim is to help raise money for further research into the effects of noise disruption to these magnificent mammals.

“Recently the world’s largest seismic testing ship has been off the coast of New Zealand, using sonic blasting to locate oil reserves under the sea,” says Caro. “We want to draw attention to this practice and its effects on whales and dolphins, who rely so heavily on sound to hunt for food, find mates and detect predators.”

The project has received funding from the Dunedin City Council, Creative New Zealand, Urban Dream Brokerage and Gig City.


Friday 22 September-Sunday 15 October, 11.00am-5.00pm, at Urban Dream Brokerage.

Saturday 30 September-Sunday 15 October, 11.00am-5.00pm, at Otago Museum’s Skinner Annex.

Pop-up performances

Saturday 30 September, 2.00pm, Otago Museum Lawn.

Saturday 14 October, 6:30pm, Vogel Street Party.

To join in the pop-up performances, please register your interest at www.sounding.eventbrite.co.nz


Saturday 7 October, 10.00am, Otago Museum’s Hutton Theatre

Sonic Seas Film Screening

Saturday 7 October, 1.00pm-3.00pm, Otago Museum’s Hutton Theatre




Otago Daily Times article

Orderdate: 21 Sep 2017
Expiry: 31 Oct 2017