The Virtual Whale Project 
3D Animation and sound environment for the visualization of the feeding behaviours of Pacific Humpback Whales

Multimedia Files (please note: under renovation, some files temporarily unavailable)


Cooperative Feeders  
This footage of cooperative feeding Humpback Whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae) was shot in Frederick Sound, SW Alaska from the research vessel Game Theory.
Simulated Schooling  
One aspect of our work is modelling the behaviour of schooling fish, such as the Pacific Herring that the Humpbacks feed on. This clip deomonstrates a small scool of fish reacting to the approach of two predators (whales). CoolSchool was developped by David Hooper.
Animating Whales  
Modelling and animating the movement of Humpbacks as they engage in their underwater choreography is a moajor element of this project. Early systems employed very simple procedural animation, current work is investigating the use of motion controllors and more complex articulation. Mush was developped by David Cowperthwaite.
Visualizing Bubble Nets 
The original motivation for this project was to provide biologists with a means of visualizing the underwater components of the cooperative feeding (bubble netting) behaviour. In this QuickTime clip one whale blows a bubble net.

VRML Models

VRML Humpback 
This is a VRML model of the humpback that you see in our animations.  There are a few problems with vertex normals and colors, oh well you get what you pay for... 
To view this file you'll need a VRML plugin such as the Cosmo Player from SGI 

Sound Files(please note: under renovation, some files temporarily unavailable)

Feeding Calls 
The humpback whales employ intense bursts of sound in their coopertative feeding. Whether for coordination or to drive the schools of fish the purpose of the calls is unclear. Note the "ascending phrase", the characteristic rise in pitch of the calls as the whales lunge for the surface. 
After Dinner Conversation 
Whales mingling about after a feeding episode vocalize in a wide variety of ways, listen to their impressions of other barnyard animals... 
  • Listen all the way to the end...

Media Exposure

For some reason, the words "Virtual" and "Whale" have managed to attract the attention of the local and national media. Here is a summary of the attention we have recieved in the local news:  
  • Simon Fraser News, March 21, 1996 (Vol 5, No. 6) 
  • Virtual Whale Brings Science to Life Three computing science students have designed a Whale of a Computer Graphics Program The Vancouver Sun, March 16, 1995 
  • Whale watching on a computer screen CBC Evening News Friday, March 22, 1996 
  • Canada AM (Canadian National Morning News/Variety sShow) Tuesday, April 2, 1996 
  • Chief Information Officer (magazine) 
  • CTV National News 
  • The Discovery Channel Premier airing: Tuesday April 23, 1996 on the program "" Here is a link to their site 
  • Point mentioned us during the week of May 7th 
  • The Center for Systems Science "Feature of the Day", May 29th, 1996 

Talk back to The Virtual Whale Project at 
© 1995,1996,1997 D.Cowperthwaite, M.Coyle, F.Sharpe