The killer whales around Vancouver Island need our help to protect them from the effects of human activity. Ocean Sonics has stepped up to the challenge with its novel hydrophone network.
The final stage of the Whale Tracking Network was installed last week by Ocean Sonics field operations team, in the Salish Sea on Canada’s West Coast. This real-time acoustic network in unique in the world in terms of its size and capability.
The purpose of the Network is to monitor and track the locations of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population in their Critical Habitat, making it easy for decision makers to know the state of the killer whales, and assess the best course of action.
The Network is operated by DFO, Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada.
The Network consists of 28 icListen Smart Hydrophones deployed in 9 ‘nodes’ networked together via radio links to a central station where data is archived and presented to users. All hydrophones are synchronized to simplify localization of detected sounds. The typical sampling rate is 64 kHz, but can be as high as 512 kHz to detect high frequency clickers such as the harbour porpoise.
Authorized users access the web server to view current or archived information on a chart of the area.
The benefit to DFO is knowing where the animals are to better protect them from human activities. Better understanding of their behavior near shipping and other human activities helps decision makers and emergency responders.
Early results show the system is effective at identifying the killer whales as they pass the listening stations. The results also show the sound levels of vessel traffic in this critical area.