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Our Mission – Inter-species communication with cetaceans.

Who are we ?

We are an association under the 1901 law, recognized as being of general interest for its acoustic research and environmental actions in the marine environment.


WE PLAY MUSIC WITH WHALES.

The mission of the Shelltone Whale Project is to play, improvise, co-write and record music with whales, sublimating through this common creation the fundamentals of interspecies communication and then to analyze and attempt to understand these data and study the effects of these songs and sounds on other living organisms such as plants, animals and humans.

Beneath the surface of the oceans, whales sing extraordinarily complex and delicate songs, pure expressions of their intense social life and wisdom. Anyone who has approached a whale and had the chance to listen to its song, has had the feeling that these peaceful creatures have an immense knowledge to discover and share.

After several years of collaboration between acoustic engineers and marine biologists, at the acoustic research laboratory of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and Stanford University in California, the Shelltone Whale Project team has created a wind instrument inspired by the marine conch that reproduces the whales’ song on the surface and underwater.

In every region of the world, humpback whale families compose their own songs. However, every year, all whales in all oceans have a common song that is constantly evolving. Humpback whales remember the songs they composed and pass them on between families from different territories. This observation leads us to believe that they demonstrate a universal consciousness.

Moreover, Shelltone Whale Project research has shown that they are able to engage in interspecies communication with humans through music.

Playing music with whales allows us to experience a special relationship with them on a daily basis and thus to be able to be close to them, to experience moments of intimacy with them. These moments of intimacy allow us to collect a database of sound and behavioural data. We can then make interdisciplinary research and artistic creations available, organise and promote them worldwide.

The message is in the song.

Pierre Lavagne de Castellan

Marine Bioacoustician – Ethologist – Research Director of the Shelltone Whale Project. 

He met “his” first humpback whale and listened to his “song” in Hawaii in 1981. Since then, he has traveled around the world and sailed in all seas. To establish contact and initiate interspecies communication with humpback whales, music quickly became an obvious way forward.

In 2005 he created the “Shelltone Whale Project” and obtained recognition of general interest. In two years, he developed, at the acoustic research laboratory of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and Stanford University in California, a wind musical instrument that allows him to play music underwater in the frequencies of humpback whales with the same range.

From 2008 to 2012, he tested this instrument between northern California and the Hawaiian archipelago, with humpback whales. The first musical exchanges between humans and cetaceans underwater were born from these experiences.

Since 2013, he has been studying whale singing and contributing to the establishment of an acoustic and photographic database of cetaceans in the young Agoa sanctuary, a marine protected area in Guadeloupe, where humpback whales breed.

He came to settle in the Caribbean to try to renew the “Missing Link”, it is now the main mission of the Shelltone Whale Project.

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Playing music with whales allows us to experience a special relationship with them on a daily basis and thus to be able to be close to them, to experience moments of intimacy with them. These moments of intimacy allow us to collect a database of sound and behavioural data. We can then make multidisciplinary research work available, organize and promote it.

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Indeed, recording whale songs while observing their behaviour when they emit sounds allows us to make hypotheses about the usefulness of these songs on their families, on distinct individuals, on their environment.

The whale songs we record are the result of years of research and thousands of hours spent at sea, in contact with them, we compile, classify and study thousands of hours of whale songs, these recordings are the basis of our research.

Here, below, is a very beautiful whale song that we recorded during our research….

Excerpt from a whale song recorded 10 miles off Baille Argent on April 26, 2016. That day, we were stopped, engines off, listening to hydrophone. Three male singers arrived and positioned themselves under our boat, they started singing… The echo is natural, we were placed on a birth vortex, the geological configuration of the vortex produces this echo.
The three males were joined by a juvenile, from there we witnessed a singing lesson…. They sang for 43 minutes, we recorded everything, then they left, as they had arrived, in silence…

Today, as when we had this experience, we are convinced that there is a message in this song.