WHOI expert to share discoveries about elusive whale species

Alessandro Bocconcelli – March 27 at Whaling Museum

. – Alessandro (Alex) Bocconcelli, Research Specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), will dive deep into the science of beaked whales during a presentation at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Wednesday, March 27. Very little is known about these elusive whales because they spend most of their lives underwater at great depths. Bocconcelli will share new discoveries, made possible thanks to non-intrusive acoustic recording technology developed at WHOI. Bocconcelli’s lecture, “Discoveries on Beaked Whales with Digital Recording Tags,” begins at 6:30 p.m., preceded by a reception at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for Whaling Museum members and $15 for non-members. Details and information about how to purchase tickets are at www.whalingmuseum.org or 508-997-0046. The Whaling Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in New Bedford, Mass.

The digital acoustic recording tag, or DTAG, is about the size of a sandal. It has a variety of sensors to record sounds and movements, and is attached to the animals with small suction cups using a handheld pole. It is programmed to release from the animal within a day and is recovered with help from a VHF radio beacon in the tag. The audio and sensor data are then off-loaded to a computer for analysis. Data collected during research cruises in the Ligurian Sea, Canary Islands, Bahamas, and the Alboran Sea have begun to provide insights into the mysterious lives of beaked whales. DTAGs data confirm that beaked whales can dive for 1.5 hours up to a depth of 6,230 feet, which is the current depth record for any marine mammal.

An experienced mariner and sea captain, Bocconcelli holds a Master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has been on more than 100 research cruises. He has co-authored more than 50 research papers on topics such as marine mammal science and behavior, acoustics, and tagging of marine mammals with non-intrusive tags.

Media Contact/High-resolution images: 
Tina Malott
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum

cuviers beaked whale
Cuvier's beaked whale in the Ligurian Sea, Italy, summer 2018. Photo courtesy WHOI


WHOI researcher A. Bocconcelli
WHOI Research Specialist Alessandro (Alex) Bocconcelli


About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales in the world’s oceans, and the history and culture of the SouthCoast region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. Museum hours: January through March, Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; April through December, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is open until 8 p.m. every second Thursday of the month. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free for Museum members and children ages three and under; adults $17, seniors (65+) $15, students (19+) $10, child and youth $7. For more information, visit www.whalingmuseum.org.