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Images: Caller IDs for Whales

To learn about the behavior of pilot whales and other marine mammals, scientists have recorded the animals' underwater calls and vocalizations. But sorting through thousands of recordings to identify what animals made them is a time-consuming task. [See and hear dolphin calls.] (Courtesy of CIRCE (Conservation, Information and Research on Cetaceans) under National Marine Fisheries Service Permit #14241)

With more than 4,000 recordings of pilot whales like these, researchers seized the idea of plugging into the power of crowd-sourcing, leading to the creation of Whale FM (http://whale.fm/), a website that asks people "to help us understand what whales are saying." (Photo by Frants Jensen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, under National Marine Fisheries Service Permit #14241.)

WHOI research specialist Laela Sayigh and colleagues from the University of St. Andrews say that people using the Whale FM website are helping them categorize the large number of marine mammal vocalizations the scientists have recorded. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)