Winter Speaker Series

2021 Zoom Speaker Series

The Sonic Sea - Voices of the Deep

Chris Clark
Sr. Scientist & Researcher,
Dept. of Neurobiology & Behavior, Cornell University

March 10, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Register Here for Zoom Presentation

Contact: Ed Friedman, 207-666-3372

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s (FOMB) third presentation of their 24th annual Winter Speaker Series, Sonic Sea - Voices of the Deep, features Chris Clark Sr. scientist and senior researcher in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. This event, FOMB’s third ever virtual meeting presentation, will be held via Zoom and registration is accessible via hyperlink at the top of FOMB’s web page - The event takes place Wednesday March 10th at 7 pm beginning with an hour-long showing of the award winning film Sonic Sea, followed by a presentation from Dr. Clark, an expert in the field of undersea bioacoustics.

Far from quiet, the undersea world is awash in sound. Unfortunately, normal sounds whether species communication, geological or hydraulic in origin and necessity, have become increasingly drowned out by anthropogenic or man-made noise. Most, of this bioacoustic interference comes from three sources, shipping, military sonar activities and seismic exploration. 

Sound print of ship traffic inbound to Boston Harbor through Stellwagon Bank Marine Sanctuary.
Small dots are displaced feeding humpback whales.

 Sonic Sea is a film of underwater noise pollution and the harm it does to ecological communities. The one hour film will be followed by a presentation from senior scientist Chris Clark, Ph.D. who appears in the film. Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life. But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. Sonic Sea is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution. Thanks to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for making this important film available to FOMB. Attendees may wish to watch the film on their own ($2.99) prior to the FOMB showing (no charge) and just join in at 8:05 for Dr. Clark’s presentation. Here is a link to the trailer and full viewing: 

Chris Clark is a research professor and senior scientist in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. In addition, he is a part-time senior research scientist at Marine Acoustics, Inc. and director of scientific projects at Planet OS. Dr. Clark has a long history of successfully working at the interface between science, applied engineering, industry and regulations– all with the specific objectives of using science to understand the potential impacts of human activities on marine mammals and to inspire and enable the scientific conservation of marine wildlife and habitats. 

Clark’s work in this field began in 1976 with his Ph.D. research on southern right whales off Argentina and continued in 1979 researching endangered bowhead whales off Point Barrow, Alaska. In Alaska he collaborated with William T. Ellison where they deployed sparse arrays of hydrophones to locate and track migrating bowheads. The use of bioacoustics was a new survey technique then for a discipline previously limited to visual observations. 

In 1992, Chris was named chief marine mammal scientist for the U. S. Navy’s Whales ’93 dual-uses program and continued his Navy affiliations for many years of studying effects of sonar on marine mammals. His current research areas include studies on the potential chronic influence of cumulative man-made noise sources (e.g., commercial shipping and seismic airgun surveys) on large whale distributions, behaviors, and movements in different regions. Clark is deeply concerned about the continued loss of marine animal acoustic habitat as a result of multiple anthropogenic noise sources operating over large scales for extended periods of time. Chris has published more than 200 papers and given innumerable presentations including a TED talk

FOMB normally hosts their Winter Speaker Series October-May, the second Wednesday of each month. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the current series is abridged and virtual, running January-May. The FOMB April 14th presentation, “Protecting, Preserving & Restoring Native Fish” features National Vice-Chair of the Native Fish Coalition, Emily Bastian and Executive Director of the NFC, Bob Mallard. This event takes place 7:00 pm with the Zoom access link available at a week or so prior to the presentation. 

Speaker Series presentations are free and open to the public. Visit to see speaker biographies, full event schedules, video recordings of past presentations, become a member, and learn more about how you can help protect beautiful Merrymeeting Bay.

Thanks again to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for making the Sonic Sea showing available to FOMB on March 10. Due to legal constraints with the film distributers we were unable to record the film, aired prior to the discussion with Dr. Clark. If you wish to view this highly important film (and we strongly recommend doing so) prior to watching our recording of the program’s second half featuring Dr. Clark, you can do so here at the link to both trailer (no charge) and full viewing option: ($2.99).




Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler