Citizen Science

Discover our Sanctuary Soundscapes project, featured on SoundCloud, to immerse yourself in Gray's Reef! Listen, comment, download and enjoy these passive acoustic recordings from 60' below the surface of the Atlantic.

This work was completed as part of the SanctSound project, which is a collaboration between NOAA and the U.S. Navy to better understand underwater sound within the National Marine Sanctuary System. For more information, visit

Sanctuary Soundscapes project FAQs

What is the purpose of the citizen science project?

The purpose of the Sanctuary Soundscapes project is to bring awareness to our National Marine Sanctuaries and better understand our ocean soundscapes and how we impact them. Citizen scientists are integral to this process because of the sheer magnitude of data that exists. Having citizen scientists performing initial analyses will only increase the efficiency of our processing. For example, a citizen may analyze a 4-hour recording and determine that there are only 2 hours of a specific sound. When experts perform a more in-depth analysis, they will know to focus on the areas identified by our citizen scientists.

What is the significance of analyzing acoustic data?

One of the key species we are focusing on with this research is the North Atlantic Right Whale. This is the most endangered whale species, and we know that Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is located in the only known nursery grounds for these animals. If we can locate Right Whales within these data, we could determine when and how they utilize Gray’s Reef to better monitor and protect them.

How will participants know what they are hearing?

We will offer training to each citizen scientist before they dive into the data. At Gray’s Reef, we are aware of at least 31 species of soniferous fishes and six species of mammals, 40 species of birds, two reptiles species, and five invertebrates species. Some of these sounds are very distinctive, but others may only be grouped into general categories, like grunts, snaps, or moans.

Can I jump in anytime and help with the project?

Absolutely. The website and SoundCloud page are both live. Anyone interested in participating can register for the upcoming web training.

What do I need in order to participate?

All that is needed to participate is a computer, a pair of headphones, and the free analysis software we will be using, RavenLite. Once we receive their registration, we will reach out with details, including how to access and download the software and schedule virtual training sessions.

How do I access the data files?

Part of the training will cover how to access files, and we will monitor who is working on which files so that we can prevent overlap. However, multiple people may work on the same files but focus on different frequency ranges.

Register to receive project updates and volunteer training information.