There's nothing quite so eerie and otherworldy as the sound of freezing ice, or the bubbling of mud pots.
Now people can navigate online to hear those sounds and many more — including the bellows of bison and a dawn chorus of coyotes — recorded in Yellowstone National Park as well as across the West as part of an addition to the Montana State University Library's Acoustic Atlas.
It may sound like the lead-in to a joke, but would a southern white-tailed deer have a different accent, maybe a drawl, from one that lives in…
The website also includes a developing podcast series highlighting America’s first national park. One of the podcasts features longtime wolf technician Rick McIntyre and recordings of wolves howling in winter. McIntyre speaks briefly about the "unnatural silence" in the park before the wolves were reintroduced. Another listens to the warbling wing and tail sounds of a male Wilson's snipe courtship call.
The new recordings were created through a cooperative project between the Acoustic Atlas and Yellowstone National Park. The growing audio collection aims to create new ways to experience the animals, landscapes and people of the area by offering a freely accessible online archive of natural sounds, interviews, and radio stories focused on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
“We could not be more excited to share the sounds of Yellowstone through our archive,” said Kenning Arlitsch, Dean of the Montana State University Library, in a press release. “Montana State University Library launched the Acoustic Atlas because there are relatively few natural sound collections at libraries and even fewer focusing on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.”
The Acoustic Atlas was founded in 2013 and includes recordings from throughout the Western United States. The Yellowstone collection builds on its mission to document the sounds of regional ecosystems.
In addition to expanding the natural sounds collection at MSU, the field recordings will be used as a foundation in creating sound-rich, podcast-style audio pieces that tell the stories of research and issues in Yellowstone National Park. The audio stories, which visitors and followers can listen to online, will highlight the rich, but changing, soundscapes of the area, chronicle some of the research taking place in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and spotlight key voices in the region.
“It’s kind of like public radio for Yellowstone National Park," said Jennifer Jerrett, project producer and Yellowstone National Park correspondent. "I hope these stories build perspective and advance our conversations about science and the complexities of preservation in Yellowstone.
“2016 marks the National Park Service Centennial, so it seems fitting to stop and listen — to really listen — and reflect on the meaning of parks and preservation in America,” Jerrett added.
The project is supported in part by Montana State University, the Yellowstone Association, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and by a grant through the Eyes on Yellowstone program. Eyes on Yellowstone is made possible by Canon U.S.A. Inc. The program represents the largest corporate donation for wildlife conservation in the park.
Audio from the partnership can be accessed through the Yellowstone National Park and Acoustic Atlas websites.