Centered within the summertime habitat of the endangered southern resident killer whales, Orcasound Lab is also a good place to listen for ships passing through Haro Strait and boats traveling along the west side of San Juan Island. In the fall you can hear humpbacks, and in the summer male harbor seals vocalize nearby. The hydrophones were first deployed in 2002 are currently just beyond the kelp about 30 m offshore at a depth of 8m. Orcasound Lab is hosted by Beam Reach, a social purpose corporation based in Seattle.
Orcasound Lab is also the home and laboratory of Dr. Val Veirs who first deployed hydrophones there in the early 2000s with physics and environmental science students from Colorado College. The node has hosted an array of 4-8 hydrophones stretched ~200m along shore at depths of 5-20 meters. Since then, there have been multiple hydrophone deployments, repairs, and acoustic research projects conducted at the node.
As of November, 2018, we are streaming from and testing ITC hydrophones with custom pre-amps mounted on PVC tripods 1-2 m above the gravel bottom and a binaural array with elements from LabCore Systems (Lon Brocklehurst) and Cetacean Research Technology (Joe Olson). Cables traverse the rocky intertidal within a drainage pipe protection and then run data-logging and streaming computers. Custom software written in Visual Basic by Val Veirs assesses average underwater sound levels and automatically detects “unusual” sounds.
More photographs of Orcasound Lab: