Watkins / Schevill Collection

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has gifted marine mammal data and artifacts to the New Bedford Whaling Museum. There are two components to this gift. The William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings and Data consists of Watkin’s data set, audio and video recordings, papers and reprints. The William A. Watkins and William E. Schevill Collection of Images and Instruments consists of photographs, recording instruments and harpoons. These collections were created or collected by William Alfred Watkins, with the assistance of William E. Schevill, Peter Tyack, Melba Caldwell,  Thomas Potter, and G. Carleton Ray, among others.


Historic Marine Mammal Sound Archive Now Available Online

Click here for access to recordings of more than 60 species.
The William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings consists of recordings of various marine mammal species collected over a span of seven decades in a wide range of geographic areas by Watkins and many others. 


Read a News Release about the online Marine Mammal Sound Archive. (6/20/2016)

WHOI finding aid offering a fuller description

Transcript of interview with William A. Watkins by Gary Weir and Frank Taylor (pdf), March 2000


About William Alfred Watkins

Below: a 4 minute video featuring William A. Watkins titled The Man Who Opened Our Ears to the Ocean.

screenshot of video - The Man Who Opened Our Ears to the Ocean

William Alfred Watkins was a pioneer in marine mammal bioacoustics, studying the acoustic behavior of whales, dolphins, and seals in their natural environments. He was born January 8, 1926 in Conakry, French Guinea in West Africa, where his parents worked for the Christian Missionary Alliance Mission. After receiving a B.A. degree in anthropology from Wheaton College in Illinois in 1947, he worked on the college’s staff in electrical and radio systems until 1950 before returning to West Africa, where he was born and raised. Interested in linguistics, he mastered more than 30 African languages. He built and operated an international radio station (ELWA) in Monrovia, Liberia from 1951-1957. He also served as President of the West African Broadcasting Association, and was station manager and language department chief of ELWA before moving back to the United States and Cape Cod.


Marine Recordings Locations Worldwide

Below: Geographic Location of Marine Recordings Preserved in the William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings and Data.