French bio-acoustician Michel André’s childhood fascination with whales has led him to a lifetime of studying the mysterious acoustic world of cetaceans and the risk they face from collisions with ships.
Armed with degrees in animal physiology, biotechnology and biological sciences, André, (born in 1963), currently a research professor at Barcelona’s Technical University of Catalonia, was well equipped to devise a system that protects whales from destruction by warning vessels when the giant creatures are nearby.
The 2002 Laureate’s Whale Anti-Collision System (WACS) is awaiting commercial funding; however, the ingenious method has already been adapted to other applications. A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the university’s Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics is developing solutions to balance the negative effects of underwater noise on marine ecosystems. And, as part of the European Seafloor Observatories Network, André and his team are gathering acoustic data at 11 sites — from the Arctic to the Gulf of Cadiz.
Published in 2009