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J pod whistles past Port Townsend

2011/05/13 in Acoustic analysis, Network news, Port Townsend Marine Science Center, southern resident

J pod calls and whistles were heard by listening humans and computers tonight on the hydrophones at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center.  Jeanne Hyde first reported them at 19:37, beating the automated detector by a full 20 minutes. Meg McDonald reported them at 20:39 and the final automated detections were at 20:58. Jeanne said the last faint calls she heard were at 20:59. So the vocal session lasted about 1 hour 22 minutes.

The automated recordings (below) contained predominantly S2 calls, some great whistles, and some high frequency buzzes. It was also noteworthy that calls were heard over clattering ship noise at 20:11, possibly the 20:00 departure of the Chetzemoka ferry from Port Townsend.

34 Detections


2011-05-13 19:57:26
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:04:44
node=pt dB=110 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:09:23
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:09:54

node=pt dB=103 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:11:34
node=pt dB=105 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:11:59
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:13:30
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:14:50
node=pt dB=110 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:15:00
node=pt dB=108 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:15:14
node=pt dB=109 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:17:35

node=pt dB=111 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:18:14
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:20:00
node=pt dB=108 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:20:10
node=pt dB=105 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:36:01
node=pt dB=110 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:36:11
node=pt dB=102 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:38:27
node=pt dB=103 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:45:39

node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:47:09
node=pt dB=108 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:47:38
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:48:47
node=pt dB=106 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:49:18
node=pt dB=108 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:52:03
node=pt dB=105 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:52:25
node=pt dB=109 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:52:47

node=pt dB=104 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:53:56
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:54:07
node=pt dB=109 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:55:20
node=pt dB=106 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:55:30
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:55:45
node=pt dB=108 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:56:02
node=pt dB=109 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:57:15

node=pt dB=106 trigger=PKT


2011-05-13 20:57:31
node=pt dB=107 trigger=PKT

2011-05-13 20:58:28
node=pt dB=108 trigger=PKT

Echoes of oldest J pod male Ruffles J1

2011/05/10 in Acoustic analysis, Lime Kiln State Park, Orcasound lab, southern resident

J1 Ruffles takes on another ship

J1 Ruffles takes on another ship.

Ruffles dorsal fin

Ruffles dorsal fin

As J pod re-entered the Salish Sea yesterday and their favorite S1 call was heard for the first time on the live hydrophones in Neah Bay, I found myself hoping that J1 or Ruffles was with them. Is there still a chance that the old man will return this year? Has he been alone or lost in some outer bay of Vancouver Island, like Luna’s uncle Orcan may have been, all winter long?

Almost 1.5 years ago, in the 24 hours prior to noon 01/27/10, the oldest male southern resident whale known as J1 or Ruffles was twice heard calling out as he swam along the west side of San Juan Island. Through the live underwater microphones of http://orcasound.net J1 was recorded making long, repetitive sequences of relatively rare calls.

There is little evidence that other members his family, J pod, were nearby.  The recordings only include consecutive calls with similar amplitudes, suggesting that only J1 was signaling (there was no response from an obviously distinct distance).  Calls are commonly heard on the live hydrophones when orcas are within a range of 5-10 kilometers.  Visual scans by Jeanne Hyde and other observers in the Islands also suggested that J1 was separated from the rest of his pod by more than a few kilometers.

Was this degree of separation atypical, or is this a common occurrence that we have not observed? Last February Candice Calloway of the Center for Whale Research wrote “He often swims alone, and can be miles away from the rest of his family…”

These acoustic events were also unusual because the repeated calls (S42 and S10) are rarely heard.  It’s also highly unusual to hear the same call repeated over and over again.  It’s noteworthy that the most common J pod calls S1 and S4 were not interspersed with the S42 and S10 calls.

Automated detections:

2010-01-26 12:20:32

node=lk dB=101 trigger=PWR

2010-01-26 12:21:23

node=lk dB=100 trigger=PWR

2010-01-26 12:25:16
node=os dB=104 trigger=PKT

2010-01-26 12:31:09

node=lk dB=101 trigger=PWR

2010-01-27 11:31:37

node=lk dB=113 trigger=PWR

2010-01-27 11:33:20
node=lk dB=113 trigger=PWR

2010-01-27 11:35:19

node=lk dB=106 trigger=PKT


2010-01-27 12:34:30

node=os dB=103 trigger=PKT

Continuous recordings:

Further analysis of these sound files is warranted, along with consideration of the sequence of events preceding the 2010-2011 winter disappearance of J1. You can lend a hand by contributing to this public Google spreadsheet of the J1 location and call chronologies.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that he’ll make a surprise return this spring, but odds are that we should all work on our tributes to J1.  He still has much to teach us.

Ruffles into the light

Ruffles into the light

First recording of J pod off Neah Bay

2011/05/09 in Acoustic analysis, Neah Bay, Network news, southern resident

Neah Bay hydrophone dock

Thanks to a call from Jon Scordino, marine mammal biologist for the Makah Tribe, we were able to record J pod vocalizations for the first time using a hydrophone deployed just inside the entrance to Neah Bay. Jon got some photos which should confirm or deny the acoustic inference of the pod identity.

Here are example clips made using the recording software in Neah Bay, as well as the raw recordings from the orcasound.net audio streams:

100 second clip with S1, S2, and S10 calls (and percussives?) –
http://www.orcasound.net/wholistener/nb/detections/raw/2011/05/09/AveDb_93_05_09_2011_17_22_09.mp3

Longer continuous recordings —
http://orcasound.net/mp3s/nb/110509_1715_nb-kw-sighting.mp3
http://orcasound.net/mp3s/nb/110509_1728_nb-kw-sighting.mp3

The only other time killer whales have been observed using this hydrophone was on 9/28/2008 at 23:00:00 — the approximate time when a human listener reported hearing calls. In both of these cases, however, the automatic detector was not triggered — although it may have done so during the loudest calls recorded today if I hadn’t over-ridden the system by manually recording through the WhoListener software.