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The mission of the Shelltone Whale Project is to play, improvise, co-write and record music with whales, sublimating through this common creation the fundamentals of interspecies communication and then to analyze and attempt to understand these data and study the effects of these songs and sounds on other living organisms such as plants, animals and humans.
Beneath the surface of the oceans, whales sing extraordinarily complex and delicate songs, pure expressions of their intense social life and wisdom. Anyone who has approached a whale and had the chance to listen to its song, has had the feeling that these peaceful creatures have an immense knowledge to discover and share.
After several years of collaboration between acoustic engineers and marine biologists, at the acoustic research laboratory of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and Stanford University in California, the Shelltone Whale Project team has created a wind instrument inspired by the marine conch that reproduces the whales’ song on the surface and underwater. More information on this link.
In all the seas in the world, humpback whales have, for thousands of years, nurtured links that still exist today with the people who inhabit the coasts where they live.
We observe everywhere in the World the will of humpback whales to approach men, to spend time in their company, to swim with them, to exchange with them their music, their sound… everywhere except in the Caribbean….
Marine Bioacoustician – Ethologist – Research Director of the Shelltone Whale Project.
He met “his” first humpback whale and listened to his “song” in Hawaii in 1981. Since then, he has traveled around the world and sailed in all seas. To establish contact and initiate interspecies communication with humpback whales, music quickly became an obvious way forward.
In 2005 he created the “Shelltone Whale Project” and obtained recognition of general interest. In two years, he developed, at the acoustic research laboratory of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes and Stanford University in California, a wind musical instrument that allows him to play music underwater in the frequencies of humpback whales with the same range.
From 2008 to 2012, he tested this instrument between northern California and the Hawaiian archipelago, with humpback whales. The first musical exchanges between humans and cetaceans underwater were born from these experiences.
Since 2013, he has been studying whale singing and contributing to the establishment of an acoustic and photographic database of cetaceans in the young Agoa sanctuary, a marine protected area in Guadeloupe, where humpback whales breed.
He came to settle in the Caribbean to try to renew the “Lost Link”, it is now the main mission of the Shelltone Whale Project.
The itinerary is given on an indicative basis and will be organized, according to the weather, with the priority given on the boat excursions to meet the whales. This morning, you take a 45 minutes domestic flight to Akureyri, over the country’s mountains. In Akureyri, you are greeted by your guide who will then drive you to your accommodation located a few kilometers away, in the Eyjafjörður fjord, by the ocean. First walk in the fjord to explore the surroundings. Our accommodation for 4 nights overlooking the ocean will allow us some solitary times if we want.
During this trip we will have the opportunity to discover the island of Hrisey. Known as the natural pearl of Eyjafjörður, the island is renowned for its abundant avian fauna. Located in the middle of the fjord, it can be reached by boat in 15 minutes. From the village, hiking trails run all around the island, offering many views on the fjord. This day will also be an opportunity to meet the whales. Each day we will alternate walking times and contemplative moments, as well as discussions with Pierre on inter-species communication.
We embark in the morning for a boat trip to meet the whales. Pierre Lavagne de Castellan, bio-acoustician, equipped with his hydrophone, will decipher the whales’ songs live, in one of the best place in Iceland to observe them. We will also have some time for different practice, walks, yoga, Pierre’s lecture….the small size of the group will give us enough freedom to improvise a day-to-day program during the stay.
We get on another boat trip in the morning for seeing the whales, then we will get to Myvatn lake, located 130 kms inland, known for its active volcanism, where we will stay for two nights. We will visit Dimmuborgir an amazing lava field aged of 3000 years ago and explore some other volcanic sites.
This day is dedicated to the discovery of some of the most impressive volcanics site in Mývatn located along the rift. This region is a concentrate of Iceland. We will also stop at the waterfall of Godafoss and take a swim in the natural hot spring of Mývatn Baths. Even if the stay is dedicated to whales, we can’t come to Iceland without seeing the land smoking and the mud boiling…
We leave Mývatn after breakfast and come back in Eyjafjörður where we stop by the sea in Alkemia’s Helgafell retreat center for a last moment in contact with the ocean and to summarize this stay. We will have lunch there and depart in the early afternoon to Akureyri, for your domestic flight at 4pm to return to the capital. Free evening and night at the centre.
Transfer by bus to the airport for your international flight.