On a heat winter season afternoon as I unpacked my equipment onto a compact picket boat, a single of my curious assistants approached me inquiring what was the red torch that I was keeping. “It can be not a torch,” I explained rapidly, examining if my survey sheet was in position. “It is a depth meter… umm… Depth dekhar jonno… (to glance at the depth).”

Possibly overwhelmed by my perception of urgency he moved again and let me go on my do the job. Quickly, I jumped onto the boat, and was on my initially study of the River Ganga, at Farakka in West Bengal. Farakka, a smaller town in central Bengal, sits moreover NH34, bustling with major motion of traffic and persons all day prolonged. It is perhaps the last place a layman would picture a wildlife researcher to be in. Still there I was, on a motored wood boat in the center of the vast Ganga, continuously dipping my depth meter in the water, recording its reading and looking for Ganges river dolphins at the identical time.

‘What are you creating?’ asked the curious dude once more as our boat – scarcely large sufficient for 5 men and women – rocked on crashing waves.

“Depth. Goirahi.” I informed him.

“Hmm… goirahi ki kore deikhen?” he questioned and straight away I experienced realised the subtleties of speaking a non-native language. He needed to know how I was ‘looking’ at the depth.

I little by little defined to him that it is not gentle that the unit takes advantage of, but sound. Audio – also high in frequency for us to hear – is emitted by 1 close of the depth meter and its reflection from the base of the river is gained by an acoustic sensor on the exact finish. Considering that the speed of sound in water is recognised, the time elapsed among emitting this seem and sensing its reflection is translated into the distance travelled or depth – goirahi.

A Hawkeye handheld depth meter used to evaluate the water degree
Photograph Credit: Imran Samad


He seemed baffled by the particulars, but refrained from inquiring any next thoughts.

As a student of curiosity, I like its other disciples. Therefore, on our journey ahead, I took to conveying him one thing a little easier – a handheld GPS unit. A machine fitting in my palm, housing a uninteresting colored 2.2-inch TFT display together with a small joystick to navigate its menu.

It is a reasonably frequent system utilised by all varieties of persons all in excess of the world to record their positions, navigate landscapes and so a lot extra. It performs just like the GPS on a smartphone utilized by applications like Google Maps, but is intended to function in harsher and additional rugged environments, also supplying lots of battery backup. Soon after I experienced spelled out it to my assistant, he would normally glimpse at the odometer at show on it, and scream atop the motor sound about the distance that we had travelled so considerably. His friends at the rear end of the boat were being equally joyful to obtain the news. Probably it was a new way of searching at the river — that they had developed up about — that loaded them with fascination.

At the survey’s close, as we stood on the dock speaking about long term ideas, my assistants were being serene and pleased. They by now could greater visualise the river in a third dimension, very accurately.

A couple of times just after some consecutive surveys, I experienced come to be great close friends with my assistants. I advised them to be prepared at the Ghaat on a chilly December morning I was bringing the CPOD with me.
Surveys are crucial to know in which dolphins are at a stage in time, but it is difficult to know how they transfer all throughout the day. Do they continue to be in near proximity to one particular spot? Or do they move a great deal? To know this, a single would have to sit on a even now boat for the full working day, and report dolphins as they area to breathe. This of training course would be a tiring job! But this is precisely what the CPOD does, with minimum problems and biases.

CPOD VLIZ dolphin detector

A CPOD deployed underwater
Photo Credit rating: VLIZ


A Cetacean – POrpoise Detector records the parameters of the vocal sign of a dolphin.
Just as we discuss in sentences created up of words and phrases, river dolphins converse in prolonged trains built up of clicks, which have sure qualities like frequency, SPL (loudness) and so on. A CPOD data these parameters alongside with time. Consequently, in effect it gets like a watchman who is often on notify for dolphins. Because it is a passive logger, it does not affect the animals.

Just like this, much of what scientists do is simple conceptually. It is the translation of their ideas into fact that is advanced. How precisely do you hire a watchman underwater? In fact, the high-quality of exploration one particular does is contingent on the top quality of this translation, the equipment used and the techniques utilized. Growing technological innovation and continuous entry to it is gradually reworking the way we glance at our surroundings. 

In truth, there are numerous attention-grabbing products that researchers use to observe and fully grasp the globe. A single these system that thrilled my assistants extra than at any time was the Chart-plotter. It performs on the exact basic principle as the depth meter and is used to ‘see’ underwater, just like how a paediatrician ‘sees’ and assesses a foetus within a womb. With this, river features like its form, existence of fish and so on can be greater recognized.

Strengthening technologies are seriously empowering research, nevertheless 1 must normally recall that any gadget applied is only as superior as its consumer. With proper logic and drive, you can come across new ways to glimpse at the identical previous points. So often stay curious your observations might someday modify the planet.

Imran Samad is an engineer turned wildlife biologist who is fascinated by the mother nature of nature. He is at the moment enrolled in the M.Sc. in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at NCBS, Bangalore, where by he is finding out cetaceans. He also enjoys to compose poetry on his website.

This collection is an initiative by the Nature Conservation Foundation, under their programme Nature Conversation to really encourage mother nature written content in all Indian languages. If you might be interested in producing on character and birds, you should fill up this form.

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