NYT article on duck hearing

This New York Times Science article discusses recent work on duck hearing, research done with the aim of creating underwater signals to keep diving ducks away from fishing nets. (The problem is that the range of duck hearing overlaps that of fish.) Click on the screenshot to read the article, but be SURE to watch the cool video either in the article or below it (I found it on YouTube), which also explains the work and shows ducks “flying” underwater. (There are also adorable ducklings.) I believe the ducks are surf scoters (Melanittaย perspicillata).

However, James Gorman, who wrote the article, made a mistake common in science journalism: he didn’t cite any papers by the researcher, Kate McGrew, a masters student at the University of Delaware. If she hasn’t yet published her work, that should have been mentioned, as then we’d know whether it had been peer reviewed. Every piece of science journalism should link to relevant papers or, if the research is unpublished, say so.

Nevertheless, it’s cool work and it has a great aim: saving ducks. Kudos to McGrew, whose thesis seems quite difficult.

The video:

McGrew from the University of Delaware’s news page. That’s a common eider she’s holding, and I’m jealous!

h/t: Laurance

18 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Those ducks must’ve driven the researchers quackers. ย ๐Ÿฆ†

    • enl
      Posted August 29, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      You’re quacking me up.

  2. SnowyOwl
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    She is holding a Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis), not an eider!

  3. Adrian
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s not a Common Eider but a Long-tailed Duck or Oldsquaw on your side of the pond.

    • Adrian
      Posted August 29, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Sorry SnowyOwl, you beat me to it.

  4. Jacques Hausser
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I think that all ducks presented here are long-tailed ducks, Clangula hyemalis. They nest in tundra lakes and spend the winter mostly at sea, but also on large unfrozen lakes.

    • Jacques Hausser
      Posted August 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      I’m too slow, as usual…

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I wonder, once they have the correct frequency, how do the ducks know it is a warning and stay away from the nets?

    • Posted August 29, 2018 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Good question! They would have to have lots of near misses where the ducks get caught but escape. I would expect the reality to be just the opposite where virtually every duck is a first-timer and the tone is the last they’ll ever hear. Or the ducks that get caught are rescued and the tone would not only save the duck from getting tangled but save the fisherman from having to untangle them.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 29, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Fumunda Marine pingers deter certain dolphin species from nets by emitting a 10 kHz frequency at 132 dB** every four seconds. There’s no dolphin learning required as it’s the LOUDNESS that does the job. I suppose duck pingers will work the same way.

      ** louder than 200 person marching band, quieter approx than a gunshot

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  7. Mark R.
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Clever experiment. Like many birds, ducks are avid learners.

  8. Jon Gallant
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Ms. McGrew is evidently one of those rare people who can hold their duck when all about her have lost theirs.

  9. Diane G
    Posted August 29, 2018 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    When research is fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Posted August 30, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    [Jon Gallant]
    —Ms. McGrew is evidently one of those rare people who can hold their duck when all about her have lost theirs.—

    I would like to ask our host whom he is jealous of, the long-tailed duck or the charming “duck holder”? ๐Ÿ™‚
    .-

  11. Posted August 30, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Sorry I forgot to say that I found the experiment very interesting. Above all, the answer to the question why do we care about hearing ranges.
    .-


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