Shortcuts for listening to the Canadian Pacific

There are a wonderful and growing array of hydrophones monitoring the ocean soundscapes of British Columbia, Canada. This post provides an overview of them (from south to north) with short-cuts in a brief listening guide. In future posts, we’ll describe how to access and listen to recordings from each location. In a few cases, listening live is also possible.

ONC | SIMRES | Orca Lab | Pacific Wild | Cetacea Lab
Explore this Google map of Northeast Pacific hydrophones. The ONC and SIMRES hydrophones are in the southernmost cluster, Orca Lab is the cluster at the north end of Vancouver Island, and the final two clusters further north along the BC coast are Pacific Wild and Cetacea Lab, respectively.

Ocean Networks Canada

Thanks to a helpful email from Tom Dakin, as of August 2017 these links provide access to a suite of hydrophones maintained around the southern coast of Vancouver Island on the Venus and Neptune lines by Ocean Networks Canada (ONC). To access the archived data (often near-realtime, with lags of 10-30 minutes), you need to register with their data management system (it’s free and easy). In very rare cases, data may have been redacted by Naval personnel.

Site Search hydrophone data page (search with spectrograms) File download page (search by file name)
Strait of Georgia Central node
Strait of Georgia East node
Strait of Georgia Delta node
ONC map of hydrophones located off the Fraser River mouth.
Clayoquot Slope
Mothra hydrothermal vent
Cascadia basin


SIMRES = Saturna Island Marine Research & Education Society

The Canadian NGO SIMRES, led by Captain Larry Peck, maintains cabled IClisten hydrophones deployed near the shoreline of Saturna Island, at East Point and the next point to the south: Monarch Head. This is a magnificent vantage point for listening to the southern Strait of Georgia and Boundary Pass.

The Monarch Head hydrophone was redeployed in July, 2016. According to the ONC/DMAS metadata, the SIMRES-owned hydrophones are IClisten HF devices with GPS-based time synch. The sampling rates are 64kHz for wav data and 256 kHz for power spectral density data. Data use requires SIMRES written permission.

  • East Point
    • Depth: 27m
    • Lat:48°46.8250′
    • Long: -123°03.0900′
  • Monarch Head
    • Depth: 20m
    • Lat:48°45.9970′
    • Long: -123°05.4610′

Despite my best efforts, I’ve not been able to access the data via the ONC archive. Selecting the hydrophone at either node results in this alert:

Perhaps one must contact SIMRES to listen? We’ll look into it further…

Orca Lab

For nearly 50 years, Paul Spong and Helena Symonds of Orca Lab have maintained the Orca-Live hydrophone network in Johnstone Strait (at the north end of Vancouver Island). They have a diversifying array of ways to listen to the amazing marine soundscapes in which they live along with orcas, humpbacks, and even the occasional sperm whale (in 2018).

Pacific Wild

Another great Canadian NGO, Pacific Wild, maintains the Great Bear Sea Hydrophone Network in partnership with the Heiltsuk First Nation. Based out of Bella Bella, BC, the network is an impressive deployment of hydrophones (and in many cases cameras) in a remote wilderness. As of 2012, this post describes their technological innovations.

In Spring 2017, they advertised for a technician with the skills to improve/fix their network… and their winter 2017 newsletter indicated that they were taking a break but planned to share recordings from 5years of hard effort in 2018:

As of March 2018, I’m not able to find a live stream link on their site, but they have a wonderful archives:

Cetacea Lab

Janie Wray and Hermann Meuter of Cetacealab maintain a network of hydrophones on the northern BC coast. Their web site suggests they occasionally broadcast a live stream, but I’ve not witnessed it in action, likely due to their remote location, off-grid power system, and limited internet access.


4 thoughts on “Shortcuts for listening to the Canadian Pacific

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      Hi Cathy, if you’re talking about the live feeds for the three Orcasound hydrophones, here are the links to which you should point your favorite browser:

      We still recommend Chrome for best performance on any operating system, though any browser should work.

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