Wednesday, May 29, 2024
May 29, 2024

Hydrophone added to whale monitoring efforts

Spotting one of our southern resident killer whales is always a thrill — and now, thanks to one conservation organization’s efforts, you might also be lucky enough to hear one. 

Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s whale sanctuary livestream, which broadcasts live video over the internet from a camera on North Pender Island, is now wired for sound — through a hydrophone, an underwater microphone situated in hopes of picking up whale vocalization from the interim sanctuary zone there.  

And apart from marine life, it should be fairly quiet when the whales are expected, according to Valeria Vergara, senior scientist and cetacean conservation research program director, since vessel traffic is prohibited for part of the year to reduce both physical and acoustic disturbance. 

“It’s essentially a no-go zone during the summer months, at the time when southern resident killer whales use this area for foraging,” said Vergara. “But there’s also a lot of other marine mammals; humpback whales use this area, and of course they [also] vocalize.” 

Seeing — and hearing — the whales will certainly be entertaining, but the foundation also hopes data acquired from the monitoring station will help inform development and implementation of new or strengthened regulation and enforcement efforts there, to support recovery of the whale population.   

The location of the station will also allow conservationists to document the use of the area by other marine mammal species; according to the foundation, in addition to humpbacks the camera and hydrophone could capture imagery and sound of Bigg’s killer whales, porpoises and sea lions. The hydrophone will also continuously measure underwater noise levels, sharing that data with the multi-location NoiseTracker project to get a better understanding of ocean noise across B.C. 

To view and listen in, visit Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/@RaincoastConservation. 

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