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Current Research: long-term audio survey – Steve Moon

In June of 2018 I began a two year long audio sampling project on the edge of a large riparian zone in eastern Iowa. Sound files were recorded during June, and a transcript of one audio file from that deployment is presented below. Sound files were recorded during July, and a recorder is deployed now, at the time of this writing, in August of 2018. Audio sampling will be completed in May of 2020, and an article summarizing results of the survey will be published in the summer of 2020.

Over the past ten years I have conducted audio surveys along several large rivers within the southeast corner of the state. I have successfully deployed audio recorders during every month of the year and in every possible weather condition. I have waded flood waters to retrieve recorders on more than one occasion. I had a visual sighting of a Sasquatch one afternoon as I was retrieving a recorder. On another occasion a small tree was sent crashing to the ground a hundred feet off my right shoulder as I was walking out with a recorder. Deploying and retrieving audio recorders has provided opportunities for interaction with Sasquatch, and helped me to gain valuable knowledge about the environments sampled.

This survey is designed to test for interactions between Sasquatch and humans, and reactions in Sasquatch to human caused landscape changes. During the two years that I’m sampling there will be a series of on/off push/pull factors that should directly influence local Sasquatch behavior. I hope to identify specific reactions in the local Sasquatch population to the various changes that occur during the survey period. Describing the specific factors involved would possibly give away the location, potentially skewing or otherwise compromising my data, so information regarding the sampling location will have to wait for the final report.

An Olympus LS-7 digital audio recorder with a pair of Giant Squid Audio Labs stereo omnidirectional microphones is being used for this survey. These are deployed in a weather sealed plastic enclosure in which holes for the microphones have been drilled so that the microphones point slightly downward, affectively making them waterproof. I have used this method successfully for about ten years.

Audio is recorded for six hours per night, from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am, seven to ten consecutive nights per month. Once retrieved, audio files are analyzed selectively based on weather conditions under which the recordings were made, referencing weather history. Listenability influences which files are selected for analysis during each sampling period. Insects, frogs, wind, dripping water, a combine, an air conditioner or a stream are only a few of the things that can render an audio file extremely difficult if not impossible to listen to. At the location of this survey insects and frogs can create difficult files which can require a lot of post-processing, and of course weather is always a factor.

Familiarity with the ambiance of a place is developed during site visits and file analysis, and each place is of course unique. In the transcript below I indicate right stage and left stage, which correspond to the area to the right or left of the recorder. Recording in stereo allows perception and analysis of the sound stage.

Processing generally involves cutting off high or low frequencies, hiss removal and amplification. If recording conditions are good you won’t need or want processing. Unprocessed audio files give a more realistic sound stage, and a better indication of the ambiance or “gestalt” of a place than a heavily processed file.

Below you will see wood knocks described both as distant and quiet. The difference between these two types of wood knocks is obvious in an unprocessed file, but can become obscured with processing. Distant sounds are easily identifiable as being from a considerable distance. Quiet sounds are sounds that are perceived by the listener to emanate from very near the recorder, even in the very immediate vicinity. With experience these subtleties quickly become obvious and may be reliably described for analysis as they are here.

This transcript represents the first recorder deployment at this location, and the first of the study. Again, details about the study location are sensitive, but will be fully disclosed in my final report. The Sasquatch appear to have been very active on the night of this particular recording. The recorder was looking down a hill into a deep ravine. Sound clips are included of a few of the more significant events recorded. Audacity spectrogram images are provided for several other occurrences as well. I don’t use color when viewing sound signatures in Audacity. I find that I’m able to detect very subtle sound signatures in the gray scale when doing a visual analysis.

My interpretation of the behavior hinted at in this transcript is as follows: Taking into account the multi-directionality and overall character of each sound reported, a dynamic scene unfolds between more than one Sasquatch. That’s about all that I can say at this juncture.

I’m basing my interpretation on the fact that the sounds that I have recorded are unique and are not perceived by me to occur as a result of human activity, nor do they seem to be produced by any other known animal that I have knowledge of. Also, after ten years of actively recording and analyzing audio, and studying recordings by colleagues, a series of sounds that we believe to represent Sasquatch behavior has become very familiar to me. This survey is in a known locality that coincides with additional observations made by myself and colleagues over a period of years. Experience is absolutely essential to gaining insights regarding the behavior of these creatures.

This transcript is not a completed analysis of this particular audio file. You can see that the transcript ends at 04.11.40, which corresponds to 40 seconds past 2:11 am. I will publish periodic progress reports for this survey as work is completed. Analyzing sound files is a tedious and time consuming process, and right now we’re pretty busy getting the Lowlanders organization going!

LS_70220 June 5, 2018, long term recorder deployment: timed recordings from 10:00 pm – 4:00 am.

00.00.00 represents 10:00 pm. 06.00.00 represents 4:00 am.

00.03.00 – 00.06.00 animal walking

00.32.57 double knock left stage

01.11.34 unknown vocal with harmonic

01.45.52 distant howl long

01.47.01 distant vocalization, left stage

01.51.44 wood knock right stage

01.52.34 distant wood knock right stage

02.07.54 quiet wood knock right stage

02.54.43 very low vocalization left stage

02.56.02 low vocalization left stage

02.57.18 high vocalization brief right stage

02.59.00 heavy stick break

02.59.33 knock with swish right stage

03.01.00 quiet wood knock left stage

03.01.12 super quiet wood knock right stage

03.01.11 super quiet wood knock right stage

03.02.52 stick snaps right stage

03.04.03 possible rock or branch landing center stage

03.06.41 very quiet double wood knock right stage

03.07.13 very low vocalization left stage

03.12.00 animal walking quietly right stage

03.12.56 heavy stick break, close left stage

03.18.48 animal running by

03.19.18 two distant howls, distant dogs reacting

03.22.23 heavy stick break

03.41.05 animal walking by, sounds large

04.11.40 loud knock left stage, possibly traffic related

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