BC Hydrophone Network
We realized very quickly 18 years ago that if you want to study whales you need to listen in to their world. The first hydrophone what put in the water at the original NCCS research station at Cetacea Lab and from there we expanded the network to of hydrophone stations from Douglas Channel to Caamano Sound ranging from 3 to 30 km from the research facility, The installation and maintenance for each station took a lot of preparation and patience. Once ideal locations were established, the next step was to dive to a depth of 60-80 feet to secure the hydrophone, ensuring the best possible opportunity to hear whales from a distance. A cable connected to the hydrophone is connected to a land- based transmitter. The radio transmitter then broadcasts all whale vocalizations back to the research station. All stations are powered with solar panels, wind generators and 12 volt batteries. We monitor these underwater sounds continuously in the lab, day and night, all year round. When calls are heard we digitally record the vocalizations directly onto our computer. From these recordings we are able to monitor the movement patterns of different orca and humpback whale populations. This method of research is ideal and allows for an acoustic window into the lives of cetaceans. We are no longer dependent on the weather conditions or daylight. More importantly, we are able to collect all acoustic information without having an impact on the whales.
In 2018 we partnered with Orcalab (Johnstone Strait), Pacific Wild (central coast) and SIMERS (Georgia Strait) to create a network that spans the coast of British Columbia. Together and with the help of the Ocean Network Canada and TIDES Canada this network will centralize the data collected by the research partners and offer access to scientist around the world.