Whale Sound showcases the British Columbia Hydrophone Network (BCHN) initiative. The BCHN was formed by several not-for-profit organizations and First Nations to better understand British Columbia’s coastal soundscape with regard to marine life and ocean noise.
Originating with the North Coast Cetacean Society (BC Whales), the Pacific Orca Society (OrcaLab), the Saturna Island Marine Research and Education Society, and the Gitga’at, Heiltsuk and Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nations, the BCHN collects underwater acoustic data from key locations along the British Columbia coast using standardized calibrated hydrophones.
To date, there are 18 hydrophones providing consistent data that, with the use of groundbreaking software, will inform researchers, the public, conservationists, area stewards and policymakers.
Whale Sound features an interactive map showing the location of each hydrophone. The map provides a portal into the DashBoard which presents accumulated data and enables comparisons of underwater noise levels in relation to the presence of whales in the different locales. From it will flow opportunities for investigations into the impacts of noise on cetaceans and other marine life.
OrcaLab’s work for over 40 years has been based on a philosophy of learning without interference. To that end, OrcaLab has developed and maintains remote hydrophone and camera systems used to follow the lives of cetaceans inhabiting the waters of the Johnstone Strait/Blackfish Sound area. OrcaLab operates 24/7 year-round (orcalab.org) and has accumulated a long-term collection of cetacean data. Given this background, OrcaLab naturally and enthusiastically joined the BCHN, recognizing its potential for creating a better understanding of the lives of whales and the ocean they inhabit along the British Columbia coast.
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