In late 2022, Auckland Museum was part of a collaborative voyage to Rangitāhua, aimed at studying the pristine marine environment of the area. Using specialized equipment, we explored the marine world beyond what we physically see, immersing us into the mysteries of the deep.  

Blog by Lauren Timms, Assistant Collection Manager, Te Mana o Rangitāhua

Hydrophones are specially developed microphones for listening underwater. Developed by the Navy to detect submarines, marine biologists have jumped at the opportunity to repurpose them as non-invasive recorders. The results open up the fantastic marine world in a whole new way.  

Sound is an important communication tool for marine animals. Within water, sound travels better than light. This means that communication based on sound can travel further, requires less energy, and can be more complex. One of the best examples of this are whale songs.  

Scientific divers Beau Masters and Esther Stuck checking out the new Hydrophone. Installation of hydrophones is done by SCUBA diving using specialised underwater gear.

Expert Rochelle Constantine studies whale songs and the different cultural variations seen around the world. Using hydrophones, Rochelle will better understand the types and cultural backgrounds of whales that visit Rangitāhua on their migration south.  

Whales are sacred for the Ngāti Kuri iwi; the traditional owners of Rangitāhua. Legends of tohoraha show the respect and significance placed on whales in traditional pūrākau. As part of the Te Mana o Rangitāhua project, Ngāti Kuri and scientists will be working together to better know these enthralling creatures. 

Humpback whale calves are particularly playful at Rangitāhua.

Rangitāhua expedition

Explore the full series of blogs from the Rangitāhua voyage.