Peter Scheifele

Professor In-Residence at University of Connecticut

An ear beneath the waves

Peter Scheifele became interested in marine mammals while studying both man-made and animal produced sonar for the U.S. Navy. While, on the one hand the Navy attempts to perfect the use of underwater sound for espionage and defence purposes, whales and dolphins have perfected the use of sub-aquatic acoustics after millions of years of evolution and adaptation to the marine environment. It is easy to understand why these animals so fascinate Mr. Scheifele, since he has such a passion for acoustics and oceanography.

Mr. Scheifele left the Navy for an academic career that allows him to fulfil his taste for research and teaching. He has a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut where he is presently completing a doctorate.

What does he do, exactly? He directs research programmes dealing with sub-aquatic acoustics and bioacoustics. This leads him to work mostly with beluga whales, minke whales and fin whales. He also teaches physics, oceanography and the biology of marine mammals to students at the University of Connecticut. As well, he is affiliated with the American School for the Deaf where he conducts research in audiology and teaches high school students. His expert ears are also in the service of the St. Lawrence beluga whales. Since 1996, in collaboration with the GREMM, Mr. Scheifele has been conducting a research programme to evaluate the effects of noise pollution on this endangered population.

So it is that Mr. Scheifele succeeds in clearing up many mysteries and resolving many enigmas by listening to the sea, not with a shell, but with a hydrophone.