Researchers to study acoustic signals of beluga whales at Primorsky Oceanarium

Researchers to study acoustic signals of beluga whales at Primorsky Oceanarium

7 June 2018

Together with biologists of the marine mammal research base, scientists from the Engineering School of Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) started studying the communicative and emotional signals of various marine mammals, including beluga whales. The oceanarium’s director, Alexander Mikhailyuk, stated that the Primorsky Oceanarium initiated the open format of this research, which entails creating working groups that will unite various areas of research, as well as integrating fundamental science and applications on one platform.

 “Beluga whales have the broadest sound spectrum of all cetaceans; their picture of the world mainly consists of sound images,” Alexander Mikhailyuk said.

The infrastructure of the base guarantees the productive operation of the equipment, and allows researchers to simultaneously record and process the acoustic data.


Researchers have been recording the acoustic signals of marine mammals for decades, but still have not succeeded in decoding them, said Sergei Gorovoi,  associate professor at the FEFU’s Instrument Engineering Department.

We must ensure not only the repeatability of the experiment, but also simultaneous monitoring of a large number of parameters – from the water’s salinity level to the beluga whales’ mood. We hope to record the acoustic signals accurately,” Gorovoi said, adding that the level of trust between the whales and the trainers who feed them and minimal stress error are of great importance for the research.

The Primorsky Oceanarium is also planning to carry out joint projects with the Gidrobionika company, a Skolkovo resident, whose experts are currently developing methods for managing the behaviour of commercial aquatic organisms.


“We observe these methods in the behaviour of marine mammals and then try to replicate them using technical equipment,” said Artur Maiss, general director at Gidrobionika.


“Based on the analyses of the beluga whales’ behaviour and acoustic signals, we will try to find a solution to the issue of squid fishery efficiency in Peter the Great Gulf,” Maiss added.


Founded in 2011, this marine mammal research base has the necessary potential for further development based on the principle of themed technology parks – a form of territorial integration of science, education and production-oriented developments in the field of nature-like technologies.