Subject: Career questions, cosmetics, acoustics

Peter Scheifele (
Mon, 02 Feb 1998 12:40:01 -0500

At 12:51 PM 1/31/98 -0500, you wrote:
>Dear Mr. Scheifele,
>        Can you please answer the following questions on whales, I need
>the information for project in school.
>1. Why are you interested in Whales?

I am a bioacoustician at the Universities of Connecticut and Rhode Island.
As such, I am interested in the sounds animals can make and hear.  I am
mores specifically interested and trained in otology [the study of the ear]
with respect to audiological abilities.  My work focuses on how a whale's
[and specifically the beluga's] hearing is affected by noise in the water  I
am concerned about this since whales have no "occupational hearing - (loss)
standards to protect them.  Since they rely heavily on sound to live, a deaf
whale is essentially one that will not survive [die].

>2. What activities do you do to find out information about Whales

Study their ear anatomy and physiology

>3. Who influenced you to work with whales?

My greatest mentors are:  Dr. Whitlow Au,  Dr.  Bill Watkins,  and Dr. Sam
Ridgway.  These men and specifically Dr. Au continue to provide my
motivation and learning about my field.  They are most highly regarded.

>4. How do pregnant blue whales take care of themselves?

They pretty much have to.

>5. What happens to the baby if he/she is born with any problems?

Most babies do just fine however, if a calf is born with a very significant
problem nature will not allow it to survive {select it out].  This would be
the case for a whale born deaf.

>6. How are cosmetics made from whales?

At one time [before synthetics]  a substance known as "ambergris" was
harvested from the gut of some whales and chemically made into cosmetics.  I
am, unfortunately, not familiar with the process.

>7. What is the average amount of whales killed for cosmetics every year?

Now, practically none.

>8. What is the average amount of whales saved every year?

I don't know but it probably varies by species.

>9. What kind of scientist are you?

I am a physicist or bioacoustician.

>10. What specific tests to do you perform on blue whales?

Peter M. Scheifele
National Undersea Research Center
University of Connecticut
Bioacoustic Research
1084 Shennecossett Road
Groton,  CT  06340-6097
Voice:  (860) 405-9103
FAX:  (860) 445-2969