Stafford Lab

A beluga whale mother-calf pair in the Chukchi Sea in spring.

The Power of PAM


The Stafford Lab uses passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) to study the underwater soundscape around the globe. Eavesdropping underwater provides information on when and where marine mammals occur and what are the anthropogenic (human-caused) threats that impact marine mammal feeding, migration, and communication.

PAM is a powerful method that provides a window under the ocean’s surface 24-hours a day, year-round regardless of weather conditions. This is especially important in remote regions like the Arctic which can be ice-covered much of the year and experience 24 hours of darkness mid-winter.

Current projects in the lab include examining how climate change is impacting bowhead whale migration, how subarctic species are moving further into the Arctic, and how bowhead whale prey is aggregated by wind direction and upwelling in the Beaufort Sea.

This is a spectrogram of bowhead whale sounds recorded in the Chukchi Sea. Click here to listen to their song.

A tugboat passes next to a feeding aggregation of bowhead whales in the Beaufort Sea in September 2021.


Kate Stafford, PhD

Marine Mammal Institute

Oregon State University