Orcasound maintains a library of recordings that you can use to learn about ocean sounds. With a little practice, you’ll be able to recognize many common sounds, including biological signals, other natural sounds (like wind and waves), and noise made by humans.

For starters, you can explore common sounds of the Salish Sea by clicking or touching the animals and other objects in this panoramic soundscape of the inland waters of Washington State (USA) and British Columbia (Canada).

Select an object to hear its sound!
Then learn how this exhibit was built by the Langley Whale Center and Orca Network.

Learn the favorite call of each pod of southern resident killer whales (SRKWs)

Each of the three pods of our local salmon-eating orcas has a favorite call. When you hear it, you can be pretty sure you’re listening to a member of J, K, or L pod. Learn the S1, S16, and S19 calls.

Explore more sounds through online exhibits

For another tour of the sounds that are most commonly heard in the Salish Sea, visit the listening station at the Seattle Aquarium and click on “More recordings.”  For a challenge beyond the three favorite calls of the SRKWs, learn a bunch more of the calls made by the southern resident killer whales (developed by educators at NOAA, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, and Killer Whale Tales).

Find a signal in a one of our “catalogs” of categorized sounds

To identify which SRKW call you just heard, reference the online catalog of SRKW calls (built by Val Veirs and his students at Colorado College, based on the Osborne-Ford tape, March 1981, and the call classification of Ford, 1987). Here’s a draft of a new version of the online catalog of SRKW calls (built during 2018 hackathons) and the latest experimental version (fall 2020). Thanks the efforts of Lucy Day (winter 2024), you can also learn the seven types of whistles made by SRKWs. For his senior high school project, Max Bolen built an open catalog of SRKW echolocation clicks. The latest release of an open signal catalog for SRKWs containing all of their stereotyped sounds can be found in the signals-srkw repository on Github.

After a few seasons of Orcasound starting to hear humpbacks in Haro Strait, in 2022 Emily Vierling built a Haro Humpback signal catalogue. With it you can learn 12 types of non-song vocalizations made by humpback whales within the Salish Sea and Johnstone Strait.

Listen to our best recordings of local orcas (SRKWs)

Our favorite orca recordings from more than 15 years of listening to the Salish Sea and Northeast Pacific. Listen to sounds made by Southern Resident orcas, including examples of all of their different stereotyped calls, their whistles and echolocation clicks, as well as the percussive sounds they make by hitting the ocean surface with their bodies.

30 seconds of SRKW calls
6 seconds of SRKW clicks
10 seconds of SRKW whistles

Hear our most amazing recordings of Salish Sea sounds

Our favorite recordings from more than 15 years of listening to the Salish Sea and Northeast Pacific. While the SRKW sounds are beautiful and diverse, each year you help us record and identify other amazing marine sounds. Learn to recognize them: humpbacks of Haro Strait; transient killer whales of Dabob Bay; harbor seals; and a collection of other rare and unusual sounds, both biological and human-made.