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.
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.
Léa Lavagne de Castellan
Léa Lavagne de Castellan, member of the research team and cetacean guide of the Agoa sanctuary.
Léa, has developed a great knowledge of cetaceans based on trust and respect.
A particular 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 that 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 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, in the greatest respect.
In addition to her participation in the research program, Léa is a qualified guide of the Agoa sanctuary, she supervises the cetacean observation outings that we organize, she sets up a geo-referencing of all the animals encountered, she our their position, takes photos and analyzes their behavior, in the evening she debriefs her outing and maintains databases on cetaceans of the leeward coast of Guadeloupe.
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.
Whales allow us to live a special relationship with them on a daily basis and thus to be able to rub shoulders with 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 available, organise and promote multidisciplinary research work.
Indeed, recording whale songs while observing their behaviour when they emit sounds allows us to formulate hypotheses about the usefulness of these songs for their families, for individual whales and for their environment.
The whale songs that 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.
AN UNFORGETTABLE ENCOUNTER…
Whale song recorded 10 miles off Baille Argent on April 26, 2016. That day, we were stopped, engines off, listening to the hydrophone. Three singing males 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 minutes, we recorded everything, then they left, just as they had arrived, in silence…
The way the singers proceeded was very unusual, we were alone, they weren’t singing to a family member, they weren’t singing to a mass of phytoplankton, no, it was something else, this song seemed to be intended for us.
We are convinced today, as we were when we lived this experience, that there is a message in this song.
We wish you a good listening…