Naked Whale Research
NorCal Hydrophone Network
August 2016 UPDATE: We have been in heavy communication with the permitting powers that be for California. After many months, it looks like we are finally on track for installation of the hydrophone and underwater webcam, however, this will no longer be located off the Point Arena lighthouse. Instead, we have been directed to assess a location off the Point Arena Cove. As some of you may know this may present an interesting opportunity for acoustic detection of both killer whales, our target species and migrating grays.
Practice your listening skills with the Salish Sea Hydrophone live at Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island, WA:
Ever wondered what marine mammal communication sounds like? Do shrimp make noise? How loud is my boat? These are a few of the exciting questions waiting to be answered by the Point Arena hydrophone node.
The Research: Using an underwater microphone, or hydrophone, NaWhaRe scientists are able to pick up marine mammal sounds up to eight miles away! By creating a call catalog of recorded whale sounds we can identify species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and even identify specific call dialects of killer whale pods. Research has shown that loud boat noise can impact and mask killer whale communication affecting cooperative hunting strategies and inhibiting critical behaviors. As part of NaWhaRe’s research on rare and endangered killer whale populations it is important to assess the ambient background and human produced noises that whales and dolphins are exposed to.
The Plan: A long-term hydrophone will be attached to an underwater mount allowing live audio to be transmitted to links on our website where public internet users from all over the world can tune in to hear sounds from the Mendocino coast. A series of nodes, called an array, would further allow NaWhaRe scientists and other listeners to determine not only the type of animal, but the direction of travel allowing for greater opportunity to observe these amazing animals.