Because Orcasound is a cooperative network, there are many ways to support our efforts. We welcome your help in three broad areas (more details below): volunteering at one of the network nodes, hacking the hardware and software that makes Orcasound work, and donating to our cause.
First and foremost, you can volunteer as a citizen scientist. Not only can you listen for whales to marvel at the symphony of sounds they make, but also you can listen *for* whales — helping to monitor their habitat and notifying the network when you hear them or a noise that could endanger them.
You can also volunteer in-person with any of the current Orcasound network members, or with a new organization in your neighborhood that you convince to become a new member. Volunteer opportunities can include helping deploy or fix hydrophones, teaching groups how to “listen for whales,” or helping create a new educational or outreach project.
Volunteers are currently helping Orcasound take huge strides forward. Orca Network volunteers recently deployed a new hydrophone node at Bush Point and built an amazing ocean listening exhibit in Langley out of an antique telephone booth. At the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, volunteers are refurbishing hydrophones and installing new computer equipment to bring their node back online. At educational nodes, volunteers teach the public about acoustic ecology and ocean noise pollution using Orcasound recordings, live audio, and other data products.
A growing team of volunteer hackers and talented consultants is building and improving Orcasound. Some are developing the open-source software that captures and conveys ocean sounds. Others are pioneering the DIY, low-cost hydrophone and computer hardware that allows humans to listen to marine soundscapes in more and more places.
Our crowning jewel is the Orcasound web app — a suite of new cloud- and browser-based ways for citizen scientists and artificial intelligence to listen for whales in real-time. As of October, 2019, this is the Orcasound tech stack:
- Orcanode: Linux-based ADC with live-streaming
- current: ffmpeg+s3fs in a bash script
- in alpha-testing: ffmpeg+boto in a Python script
- Orcasite: front- and back-end of the Orcasound app
If you’re based in the Pacific Northwest, you can work with Orcasound in-person at a hackathon (see the Orcasound project at DemocracyLab). No matter where you are, you can join the Orcasound Slack, check out our Github repositories and Trello boards, and find a place to contribute your talents. We hope you will share your expertise and innovations with us, and maybe even earn your way into the Orcasound Hacker Hall of Fame!
Check our our open Orcasound Roadmap, a public Trello board. From hydrophone to headphone, this is how we intend to put an ocean of sound in your pocket!
2019 highest priorities
- optimize low-latency audio data acquisition and a Python-based upload script on the Raspberry Pi to improve player performance in the web-app;
- prioritize key web-app features for beta-testing and implement a cycle of testing and refining them;
- develop an administrative interface (login, CMS, detection moderation, notifications);
- integrate a dynamic map view of hydrophone locations & activity into the UI;
- clarify and begin implementing machine learning architecture and data pipelines; and,
- test mechanisms for real-time analysis, including visualization of audio data as a spectrogram, annotations from human or machine classifications, and quantification of noise statistics.
You can make a charitable contribution to any of the current Orcasound network members, many of whom are 501c3 organizations. Tell them how you’d like to strengthen and grow the network, or ask about their on-going conservation or educational efforts.
Funding history and acknowledgments
The network was expanded from 2006-2012 with generous support from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through a grant administered by The Whale Museum and coordinated by principal investigators Scott and Val Veirs of Beam Reach. Since 2012, other major funding has come from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Beam Reach, and Cornell University (Chuck Greene).
In 2017 we began to diversify the network’s sources of support and build resiliency, in part by formalizing the roles and responsibilities of network members through an MOA and History/Vision document. We look forward to all Network members collaborating to raise funds to benefit their own node(s) and — in accordance with our Memorandum of Understanding — the network as a whole.
In May, 2017, the Orcasound community supported the network through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. In celebration of the 1st anniversary of the successful Kickstarter, on May 25, 2018, we announced that beta-testing of the Orcasound app — a new way to listen for whales — will occur during “Orca Month” in June, 2018. Simultaneously, we would like to thank a select group of Kickstarter backers who supported the project at the Founders level by listing them on a new Orcasound App Founders web page.