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OUR MISSION

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 inter-species communication, and then to analyse these data, try to understand them and study the effects of these songs and sounds on other living organisms such as plants, animals and humans.

Team Shelltone

The Shelltone Whale Project is a non-profit organisation, recognised as being of general interest for its research into acoustics with cetaceans and its environmental actions in the marine environment. It specialises in interspecies communication with cetaceans.

Our scientific experience in approaching cetaceans allows us to guarantee our expedition passengers a unique experience based on the knowledge and respect of the animals we observe. 

All the captains of our various bases have been trained by Pierre Lavagne de Castellan, marine bio-acoustician, ethnologist and research director of the Shelltone Whale Project.

All our trips are conducted in accordance with the Shelltone Whale Project charter, developed over 30 years of studying cetaceans around the world.

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Pierre Lavagne de Castellan

Marine bioacoustician ? Ethologist ? Research director of the Shelltone Whale Project. 

He met his first humpback whale and heard its song in Hawaii in 1981. Since then, he has travelled around the world and sailed in all seas. To establish contact and initiate interspecies communication with humpback whales, music soon became an obvious way.

In 2005, he created the Shelltone Whale Project and obtained recognition as being of general interest. In two years, at the acoustic research laboratory of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and at Stanford University in California, he developed a wind 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 experiments.

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

He now divides his time between Guadeloupe, where he is trying to re-establish the "lost link", which is now the main mission of the Shelltone Whale Project, and Cadaqués in Catalonia, where he is setting up inter-species communication protocols with the cetaceans of Cap de Creus.

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Léa Lavagne de Castellan

Member of the research team.

Léa has developed a beautiful knowledge of cetaceans based on trust and respect.

A special empathy has developed over time between her and these animals since she has been swimming with them in the Shelltone Whale Project research programme.

A complicity was born between her and the different species we study, especially with the sperm whales that she calls her "Gwo Pwasons" ? She follows the births very closely and gives names to the baby sperm whales, which she then meets regularly over the years.

She is capable of analysing the behaviour of the different species that inhabit the waters of the Agoa sanctuary where we work, she knows how to observe or interact with them without intrusion, in the greatest respect.

In addition to her involvement in the research programme, Léa is a certified guide for the Agoa sanctuary.

 

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Nael Garnier

Captain and cetacean guide in Guadeloupe.

Nael was born in Baille Argent, the home port of the Shelltone Whale Project Guadeloupe. He is a qualified professional ship's captain.
 
Trained by Pierre Lavagne de Castellan in marine acoustics and responsible approach to cetaceans, he is a guide and captain of the Shelltone Whale Project Guadeloupe since 2017.
 
A professional fisherman, he has extensive experience of sailing in the leeward coast of Guadeloupe where we work. His knowledge of the marine environment, fish, marlin, swordfish, tuna and seabirds is complementary to his skills on cetaceans during our observation trips in Guadeloupe.
 
He is a graduate of the French marine protected areas, the "Agoa" cetacean sanctuary
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Lori le Blevec

Captain and cetacean guide in Nice.

Lori has always been at ease in an aquatic environment and has spent her life near the sea, alternating between the Breton, Mediterranean and tropical coasts. She has always felt the need to work in this environment.

She very quickly passed her boating licence and classes to become a lifeguard.

Lori has travelled the world discovering cetaceans for more than ten years in order to learn about and understand them better.

She met Pierre Lavagne de Castellan with whom she shares the same philosophy, he trained her in the basics of marine acoustics and taught her the art of the non-intrusive approach to cetaceans, she practices a responsible approach to cetaceans by following the Shelltone Whale Project charter "RESPECT".

In 2018, after a real crush, she bought her sailboat "Cétacéa", a magnificent 14-metre ketch, which she dedicates to the study of cetaceans, particularly those of the Pelagos triangle, off Nice on the French Riviera.

His aim with the Shelltone Whale Project is to show in a gentle and respectful way that there are cetaceans under the windows of many people on the French Riviera.

It is essential for her to make people discover the fascinating life of these marine animals during her cetacean watching trips on the Côte d'Azur, so that together we can better protect them.

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Franklin Tarriere

Captain and cetacean guide in Biarritz.

Franklin, a Basque-Breton captain, has always let himself be carried by the ocean. His grandfather passed on to him his deep passion for the sea, and he was already sailing alongside him before he was even old enough to remember.

After becoming a sailor, the sea took him to the four corners of the world to live out his most beautiful adventures. From Ireland to the Caribbean, he has worked on all kinds of ships.

His knowledge of and respect for cetaceans and his encounter with the Shelltone Whale Project have led him to become involved in their study and protection at home in the Basque Country.

He was trained by Pierre Lavagne de Castellan and discovered the basics of marine bioacoustics and practices a responsible approach to cetaceans by following the Shelltone Whale Project "RESPECT" charter.

Franklin, a Basque-Breton captain, has always let himself be carried by the ocean. His grandfather passed on to him his deep passion for the sea, and he was already sailing alongside him before he was even old enough to remember.

After becoming a sailor, the sea took him to the four corners of the world to live out his most beautiful adventures. From Ireland to the Caribbean, he worked on all kinds of ships.

His knowledge of and respect for cetaceans and his encounter with the Shelltone Whale Project have led him to become involved in their study and protection at home in the Basque Country.

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Corto D'albarade

Captain and cetacean guide in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon

Originally from the Parisian suburbs, Corto was attracted to the sea at a very young age, in particular thanks to the film "The Big Blue".

He began sailing first as a fisherman and then as a merchant mariner, first as a sailor and then as a captain.

His first real encounter with cetaceans was in 2017, in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Since then, he has had an unconditional love for these animals and this territory.

Surrounded by cetaceans, penguins, seals and puffins, the waters of the Saint-Pierre and Miquelon archipelago have become his playground for sharing his passion with the public. He joined the Shelltone team in 2023.

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Valerie Gueit

Photographer - Member of the Research Team.

Valerie is the underwater eye of the Shelltone Whale Project. She spent her early childhood in New Caledonia, then lived between Martinique and Guadeloupe. She joined the Shelltone Whale Project research team 6 years ago. Valérie documents through images our experience of inter-species communication with the cetaceans of Guadeloupe.

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PLAY MUSIC WITH THE WHALES

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

After several years of collaboration between acoustic engineers and marine biologists, at the Acoustic Research Laboratory of the University of Geneva, we are now in the process of developing a new approach to acoustics.Ecole Centrale de Nantes and theStanford University in CaliforniaThe Shelltone Whale Project team has created a wind instrument inspired by the marine conch shell, which can reproduce the songs of whales above and below the water surface.

In every region of the world, humpback whale families compose songs that are unique to them. However, every year, all whales in all oceans have a common song that is constantly evolving. Humpback whales remember the songs they have composed and pass them on between families in different territories. This suggests that they have a universal consciousness.

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

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

The message is in the song.

WHALE SONGS

The whales allow us to live a special relationship with them on a daily basis and thus to be able to live intimate moments with them. These moments of intimacy allow us to collect a database of sound and behavioural data. We can then make available, organise and promote multidisciplinary research.

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

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AN UNFORGETTABLE ENCOUNTER...

Whale song recorded 10 miles off Baille Argent on 26 April 2016. On that day we were stopped, engines off, listening to the hydrophone. Three singing males have arrived and positioned themselves under our boat, they started to sing? The echo is natural, we were placed on a birth vortex, the geological configuration of the vortex produces this echo.

They sang for 43 minutesWe recorded everything, and then they left, as they had arrived, in silence?

The way the singers did it was very unusual, we were aloneThey were not singing to a family member, they were not singing to a mass of phytoplankton, no, it was something else, this song seemed to be meant for us.

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

We wish you a good listening...

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WHALE SONGS - 43 Min.

Recorded 10 miles off Baille Argent on 26 April 2016. We are convinced that there is a message in this song. Enjoy your listening!

Read more...

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