WHO ARE WE?
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.
Pierre Lavagne de Castellan
Marine Bioacoustician - Ethologist - Research Director of the Shelltone Whale Project.
He met "his" first humpback whale and listened to its "song" in Hawaii in 1981. Since then, he has travelled around the planet and sailed in all the seas. In order to establish contact and initiate inter-species communication with humpback whales, music soon became an obvious path.
In 2005 he created the "Shelltone Whale Project" and obtained the recognition 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 musical instrument that allows him to play music underwater in the frequencies of humpback whales with the same tessitura.
From 2008 to 2012, he tested this instrument between northern California and the Hawaiian archipelago with humpback whales. The first musical exchanges between man 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.
Léa Lavagne de Castellan
Member of the research team and cetacean guide of the Agoa Shrine.
Léa, has developed a good 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 program.
A complicity was born between her and the different species we study, especially with the sperm whales she calls her "Gwo Pwasons" ... She follows the births very closely and gives names to the sperm whale babies, which she then regularly finds over the years.
She is able to analyse the behaviour of the different species that populate the waters of the Agoa Sanctuary where we work, she knows how to observe them or interact with them without intrusion, with the utmost respect.
In addition to her participation in the research program, Léa is a qualified guide of the Agoa sanctuary, she supervises the cetacean observation trips we organize, she sets up a geo-referencing of all the animals encountered, she notes their position, takes photos and analyzes their behavior, in the evening she debriefs her outing and keeps up to date data banks on the cetaceans of the leeward coast of Guadeloupe.
Her research work is perfectly compatible with her function as a guide during the observation outings that we organize. She involves the people who accompany her in her work, which is certainly the best way to share a passion, to offer knowledge.
Photographer - Member of the Research Team.
Valerie is the underwater eye of the Shelltone Whale Project. Daughter of the islands she spent her early childhood in New Caledonia, she then lived between Martinique and Guadeloupe. She joined the Shelltone Whale Project research team 6 years ago. Valérie documents through pictures our experience of interspecies communication with cetaceans in Guadeloupe.
PLAY MUSIC WITH THE WHALES
The mission of the Shelltone Whale Project is to play, improvise, co-write and record music with whales, sublimating through this joint creation the fundamentals of inter-species communication, then to analyse this data, try to understand it and study the effects of these songs and sounds on other living organisms such as plants, animals and humans.
Below 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 approached 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 theEcole Centrale de Nantes and theStanford University in Californiathe Shelltone Whale Project team has created a wind instrument inspired by the sea conch that can reproduce the songs of whales on the surface and underwater.
In each region of the world, humpback whale families make up their own songs. However, each 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 observation leads us to imagine that they demonstrate a universal consciousness.
What's more, research by the Shelltone Whale Project has shown that they are able to engage in cross-species 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 be able to rub shoulders with them and 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 available, organise and promote interdisciplinary research work as well as artistic creations throughout the world.
The message is in the song.
Whales allow us to live a special relationship with them on a daily basis and thus be able to rub shoulders with them and 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 available, organise and promote multidisciplinary research work.
Indeed, recording whale songs while observing their behaviour when they emit sounds allows us to hypothesize about the usefulness of these songs on their family, on distinct individuals and on their environment.
The whale songs that we record are the result of years of research and thousands of hours spent at sea. We compile, classify and study thousands of hours of whale songs; these recordings are the basis of our research.
AN UNFORGETTABLE ENCOUNTER...
Whale song recorded 10 miles off Baille Argent on April 26, 2016. That day, we were stopped, engines off, hydrophone listening. Three singing males have arrived and positioned themselves underneath our ship, they began to sing... The echo is natural, we were placed on a birth vortex, the geological configuration of the vortex produces that echo.
They sang for 43 minutes...we recorded everything, and then they left, just as they had arrived, in silence...
The way the singers proceeded is very unusual, we were aloneThey weren't singing to a family member, they weren't singing to a phytoplankton mass, no, that was something else, that song seemed to be meant for us.
Today, as when we lived this experience, we are convinced that there is a message in this song.
We wish you a good listening...