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Kate Stafford

Senior Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Associate Professor, Oceanography





Department Affiliation



B.A. French Literature, Minor: Biology, University of California - Santa Cruz, 1989

M.S. Wildlife Biology, Oregon State University, 1995

Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Oceanography, Oregon State University, 2001


2000-present and while at APL-UW

An open access dataset for developing automated detectors of Antarctic baleen whale sounds and performance evaluation of two commonly used detectors

Miller, B.S., and 15 others including K.M. Stafford, "An open access dataset for developing automated detectors of Antarctic baleen whale sounds and performance evaluation of two commonly used detectors," Sci. Rep., 11, doi:10.1038/s41598-020-78995-8, 2021.

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12 Jan 2021

Since 2001, hundreds of thousands of hours of underwater acoustic recordings have been made throughout the Southern Ocean south of 60° S. Detailed analysis of the occurrence of marine mammal sounds in these circumpolar recordings could provide novel insights into their ecology, but manual inspection of the entirety of all recordings would be prohibitively time consuming and expensive. Automated signal processing methods have now developed to the point that they can be applied to these data in a cost-effective manner. However training and evaluating the efficacy of these automated signal processing methods still requires a representative annotated library of sounds to identify the true presence and absence of different sound types. This work presents such a library of annotated recordings for the purpose of training and evaluating automated detectors of Antarctic blue and fin whale calls. Creation of the library has focused on the annotation of a representative sample of recordings to ensure that automated algorithms can be developed and tested across a broad range of instruments, locations, environmental conditions, and years. To demonstrate the utility of the library, we characterise the performance of two automated detection algorithms that have been commonly used to detect stereotyped calls of blue and fin whales. The availability of this library will facilitate development of improved detectors for the acoustic presence of Southern Ocean blue and fin whales. It can also be expanded upon to facilitate standardization of subsequent analysis of spatiotemporal trends in call-density of these circumpolar species.

An accidental acoustician

Stafford, K., "An accidental acoustician," Whalewatcher, J. Am. Cetacean Soc., 43, 19-22, 2020.

1 Nov 2020

Acoustic behavior

Stafford, K.M., "Acoustic behavior," in The Bowhead Whale. Balaena Mysticetus: Biology and Human Interactions, J.C. George, and J.G.M. Thewissen, eds. (Academic Press, 2021) 668 pp.

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16 Sep 2020

This volume covers bowhead biology from their anatomy and behavior, to conservation, distribution, ecology and evolution. The book also discusses the biological and physical aspects of the Arctic ecosystem in which these whales live, with careful attention paid to the dramatic changes taking place. A special section of the book describes the interactions of humans with bowheads in past and present, focusing on their importance to Indigenous communities and the challenges regarding entanglement in fishing gear, industrial noise and ship strikes.

This volume brings together the knowledge of bowheads in one place for easy reference for scientists that study the species, marine mammal biologists, but, equally important, for everyone who is interested in the Arctic.

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In The News

What the whales hear

For the Wild Podcast, Host, Ayana Young

In this episode of For the Wild with Dr. Kate Stafford, we listen to the many songs the ocean body sings, asking; how does a warming climate alter the Arctic’s soundscape? Why are the waters of the Arctic becoming louder, and what does this mean for kin like the bowhead?

2 Sep 2020

Research project on status of marine creatures launched

Yahoo! News

A research project to assess the status of 27 species of marine mammals and five species of sea turtles in Indian waters has been launched by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (India). Kate Stafford has shared with the new initiative her experience using acoustic sensing technologies in marine mammal stock assessments.

13 Aug 2020

The singing ocean (in Polish)

The Universal Weekly (Kraków), Maria Hawranek

Kate Stafford is interviewed about her research on recording whale songs in the Arctic.

30 Apr 2020

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Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center