Optical fiber cables can monitor whales A new study demonstrates for the first time that the same undersea fiber optic cables used for internet and cable television can be repurposed to tune in to marine life at unprecedented scales, potentially transforming critical conservation efforts.It describes tracking whales using optic fiber and a technique called Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS). Sound travels five times faster in the ocean than in the air, because whales are highly vocal, acoustic monitoring is a very effective way for us to assess where they are located and where they are going. By using fiber optics, scientists could have access to many more sensors over longer distances, enabling them to better monitor whales in real time. What we are recordingwith DAS are changes in the timing of light pulses that are back-scattered by small defects in the fiber optic cable. We can then convert that signal into sound. That’s why we call them “virtual hydrophones.” In the near future this technology could makemuch brighter for whales.