Virtual Ethogram Component Depicting Humpback Whale Behavior to Support the Creation of an Online Behavioral Catalog that Uses Multiple Format

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Fall 2008

Project Description/Abstract

This support is needed to obtain equipment for the development of the virtual ethogram component of the humpback whale ethogram project. This ethogram (catalog) will go beyond traditional ethograms by incorporating advances in image and video technology (digital video, photographic imaging and computer animation) to create a comprehensive research and educational tool. We will be working with Professor Ponce and her students to develop 3-D animations using a computer-generated whale model to visually show the body movements. Computer animations will provide a better understanding of the position and orientation of the animal’s body beneath the water. The preliminary work on the feasibility of this component has been encouraging and the requested support is needed to move this component from the feasibility phase to the development phase as we continue to add behavioral material and refine our techniques. Since 1973, I have been involved in whale research with my main focus being the behavior and demographics of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae).

The equipment included in this proposal will be used to digitize and archive behavioral information recorded on mini-DV videotapes that was collected by BSC students who worked as research assistants aboard commercial whale watching vessels. Over 75 hours of information on humpback whale behavior was collected during the summer of 2008 with the support of a summer CART grant. Material contained on the tapes needs to be digitized and these digital files need to be stored on external hard drives for future use and analysis. Once archived, behavioral information will be analyzed and categorized to document the behavioral repertoire of the humpback whale. Selected digital sequences will be incorporated into the Humpback Whale Ethogram to create a multi-formatted catalog depicting the range of humpback whale behavior that can be observed in the waters off New England.

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