The beauty and eeriness of the other-worldly symphony stop everyone in their tracks as the sounds of various pods from A and G clans fill the float lab. The increasingly familiar orca whistles and squeals are building a following as more people follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds and tune in to our local station 92.3FM, or through our website. This crystal clear audio is especially gratifying after a winter of huddling over laptops in torrential rains or climbing relay station towers in storm conditions troubleshooting testy equipment.
Now that we have our system design dialed, we’re preparing to install two new hydrophone stations, one on the extreme outer coast and one down towards Hakai Pass, to expand our efforts to monitor marine mammals and shipping noise. We’ll also be setting up a high-definition remote camera at one of the hydrophone sites to allow for visual surveys of marine mammals in addition to our acoustic tracking.
Max Bakken, our field technician, is busy assembling windmills, building robust housing to shelter our equipment from the elements for years to come, and planning to install a new tower at our mountaintop relay site to accommodate our expanding network. Our IT expert Rob Mackenzie is back for the summer, fully immersed in setting up our new servers and AIS receiver, implementing automated detection software, and programming devices that will allow us to monitor power and functionality at our field sites. We’ve also welcomed New York-based intern Elliot Bok into the world of reviewing spectrograms, logging cetacean detections, and hydrophone station construction.
Next week two high school students from Bella Bella will join our crew for the summer as a part of the SEAS internship program. They’ll assist us as we upgrade our hydrophone stations, install the new ones, and catalogue cetacean recordings. We’re also planning a trip for the interns and field staff from the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department to visit our colleagues at Cetacealab to the north in Gitga’at territory to learn from their marine mammal acoustic expertise.
More to come as we continue to explore the fascinating world of the Great Bear Sea.