Discovery of Sound in the Sea Website

Oceanographers, submariners, whales, dolphins, seals, in short, all working or living in the ocean use underwater sound to sense their surroundings, to communicate, and to navigate. The scientific community and the public have become increasingly aware of, and concerned about, underwater sound. There is interest in learning about sources and uses of sound, and potential effects of sound on the environment. Underlying this interest, however, is a need to provide scientific information at a level appropriate for the general public and for educational and media professionals. The “Discovery of Sound in the Sea” website ( provides scientific content introducing the physical science of underwater sound and how people and animals use sound to accomplish various tasks. We are excited to announce the launch of a significantly redesigned website that takes advantage of the advances in web technology since the website was originally launched in November 2002. The look and feel of the website has been refreshed without losing functionality or content. The redesigned DOSITS site offers a much more interactive learning environment. The front page uses a Flash-based interactive that allow users to quickly immerse themselves in exciting content, from the songs of humpback whales to interviews with cutting-edge scientists to the science used to measure waves.

Figure 1. Front page of the Discovery of Sound in the Sea
website (

     Interactives have also been created for the Audio Gallery and the Scientist Gallery, two areas with an extraordinary amount of multimedia resources. The Audio Gallery includes over 65 examples of sound sources found in the oceans, from the unique underwater sounds of a lightning strike or ice cracking to the haunting sounds of the Weddell seal.
     Each Audio Gallery page includes images and sounds of the highlighted sound source, as well as descriptive material to inform the reader. We are continuously working with researchers to expand the Audio Gallery and have recently added underwater video clips to several Audio Gallery pages. The Scientist Gallery includes in-depth interviews of five scientists conducting cutting-edge acoustics research. The interactive allows the user to select a scientist by name or their research field. The interviews can be viewed as videos and transcripts of the interviews can be seen simultaneously while watching the videos or downloaded to read later. There are also images of their research and a brief summary of their recent results.

Figure 2. Visualization of a Weddell Seal call from the
DOSITS Audio Gallery.

     In addition to the scientific content and specialty galleries, the DOSITS website also includes three major resource sections. The Media Resources include a Facts & Myths quiz, Frequently Asked Questions, and a backgrounder on how animals hear under water. In addition, PDF reprints of a tri-fold pamphlet and a 12-page educational brochure are available. The 12-page booklet specifically addresses stakeholders’ questions regarding sound in the oceans. Background scientific content written for the lay person and highlighted issues related to the use of sound in the sea by animals and humans provides the reader with a clear picture of what is currently understood about this important topic. The booklet text relies exclusively on peer-reviewed literature and has also been reviewed by the DOSITS external scientific advisory team. Over 3,000 booklets have been distributed since publication, including distribution to the United States Senate and House of Representatives. In addition, a tri-fold brochure has been published that highlights the content on the DOSITS web site and promotes its use. Over 5,000 of these have also been distributed. These resources are specifically targeted for media individuals, providing clear, concise descriptions of the most interesting aspects of underwater sound. The Teacher and Student Resources include structured tutorials and educational games. DOSITS provides easy, efficient access to timely information on the science of underwater sound and the current state of knowledge of the effects of underwater sound on marine mammals and fishes.

Bar Chart of monthly hits
Figure 3. Bar chart of monthly hits on DOSITS from 2003 to 2009.

     Since its original launch in November 2002, DOSITS has experienced tremendous popularity. During 2009, DOSITS recorded more than 6.4 million hits; this is an extraordinary amount for an educational website. The February to May time period is typically strong for DOSITS due to wide exposure at meetings and workshops for K-12 teachers in the US. The overall pattern of traffic tracks strongly with the US academic schedule. This level of traffic is outstanding and exemplifies the public and academic need for the information on the DOSITS site. In addition, during the DOSITS project, over 32,000 CD-ROMS, containing the DOSITS web site, educational PowerPoint presentations, and classroom activities, have been distributed.
     The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have provided funding for the DOSITS project.

Kathleen J. Vigness-Raposa
Marine Acoustics, Inc.
809 Aquidneck Ave.
Middletown, RI 02842

Gail Scowcroft,
Christopher Knowlton,
Holly Morin,
Office of Marine Programs
Graduate School of Oceanography
University of Rhode Island
Narragansett, RI 02882

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