Researchers from UWA’s FutureLab RiverLab team combined science with entertainment on Australia Day in an attempt to explore links between neuroscience and biology.
The team set up a series of underwater speakers at Matilda Bay to allow revellers the chance to listen to music while swimming in the Swan River during Australia Day celebrations.
The music played through 135-Watt Clark Synthesis underwater speakers between the pontoons in Matilda Bay between 3 and 4pm, playing Triple J’s Hottest 100 and other music.
The music could be heard from 50m away, but only underwater. In light of RiverLab’s commitment to conservation and marine management the project had environmental approval to ensure minimal impact on aquatic life.
The research team was on hand on the day to answer questions and queries from the public. Those listening underwater reported the music was much clearer on the bottom of the riverbed and when ears were equalised.
The speakers were part of a larger collection of equipment used by the UWA Woodside FutureLab RiverLab and will eventually be used to investigate how aquatic life assesses and acts upon sensory information such as sound from natural and human created sources.
UWA student and RiverLab team member, Justin Geldard-Ker said the project was a chance for the group to highlight the importance of their pioneering work:
“The idea behind this Australia Day project is to advertise our research and show the innovative equipment we’re using, while also researching how the sound of music compares to other noises in the river”.
He also commented how the RiverLab team were at Sorrento beach earlier on Australia Day conducting research during an open water swimming race held by Swimming WA.
“The ocean current measuring activity was a success with data now passed onto Swimming WA for use in planning future open water swimming events… and (RiverLab) will also pass on the findings to the Surf Life Saving Clubs who commonly train and patrol the beach throughout the summer”.
The experiment generated a large amount of local and national publicity from media outlets. ABC’s Triple J spoke with the RiverLab team on the Drive Show with Veronica and Lewis. They were also interviewed by Peter Bell, host of ABC Perth Breakfast and the 6PR Breakfast Show with Steve Mills and Basil Zemplis. Local newspaper, The Post, ran a story on the Australia Day underwater speaker experiment. Online articles from Western Suburbs Weekly and the Pedestrian also featured the team.
The RiverLab experiment stimulated audiences on social media too, with plenty of likes and comments generated from various Facebook and Twitter feeds across UWA and external media sources, including Coast Live FM, ARC Offshore Hub and Australie Mag.
Justin Gerdard-Kerr (UWA Faculty of Engineering Mathematical Sciences) firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Scott Draper (UWA Faculty of Engineering Mathematical Sciences) (+61 8) 6488 7400