Bush Point hydrophone

Located on the southwest shoreline of Whidbey Island (WA, USA), Bush Point projects into Admiralty Inlet where strong Pacific tides rush to and from Puget Sound. The tidal mixing of sea and river waters attracts marine life, including local sea birds and marine mammals, as well as migrating salmon and killer whales. Many of these species make sounds that can be heard through the Bush Point hydrophone system. The hydrophones also pick up human-made noises, particularly from vessels — both in the nearby shipping lanes and launching from the local boat ramp.

Latest news:


Best images from the Bush Point hydrophone node —

Thanks to Publicalbum.org for enabling us to embed a Google album here. There are lots more images and videos in the shared Google photo album for the Bush Point Node!

Overview and credits:

Hosted and organized by Howard Garrett and Susan Berta of Orca Network, the Bush Point hydrophone project is a collaboration of many talented team members. The hydrophones are deployed from the Bush Point Wharf thanks to the generosity of current owner. The 3-hydrophone array was designed by Lon Brocklehurst of Lab-core System (Olympia, WA) and Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research and Florian Graner of Sealife Productions. Integration with the Orcasound streaming computer system and listening app is provided and maintained by Scott Veirs of Beam Reach. The high-speed Internet connection is supported through a grant from Whidbey Telecom.

Listening guidance:

As you listen to the live sounds at Bush Point, it may enrich your experience as a citizen scientist if you learn some of the sounds that are commonly heard in the Salish Sea. In this area, you should be familiar with underwater signals made by both fish- and mammal-eating orcas (calls, clicks, & whistles), humpback whales, gray whales, minke whales, and male harbor seals. You could also listen for fish, invertebrates, and even birds when the tide level is low enough to allow air-borne sounds to reach the hydrophones.

Bush Point is also a great location to monitor underwater noise levels and conduct soundscape studies. You can often hear vessel noise as commercial ships transit Admiralty Inlet (monitor ships via a real-time AIS maps) and recreational boats using the public ramp that is adjacent to the Bush Point B&B (watch via the Bush Point launch cam maintained by the Port of South Whidbey).

Deployment & maintenance history

  • 2018 Sep 19: Lab-core array deployed by boat and diver 200m offshore along a 16.5m isobath
  • 2018 Sep 28: Lon + Scott trouble-shoot array; Lon deploys single hydrophone between pilings (depth ~1-2m)
  • 2019 Jun 14: Scott cleans single hydrophone
  • 2019 Oct 15: Florian dives to assess old array
  • 2019 Dec 16: Deployment of new array at base of outer wharf pilings (depth of ~1.5 m below MLLW)
  • 2020 (during Covid!) due to damage from fish hooks, Lon replaces hydrophones, deployed a bit further from the wharf via SUP!

29 thoughts on “Bush Point hydrophone

  1. Joe says:

    11/4/18 – Tried to listen to Bush Point following its being featured in a KOMO 4 News segment in the 7 am Sunday news hour. Apparently inactive.

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      Yes, sadly the hydrophone is having trouble as of noon on Saturday. Orca Network is working with the manufacturer to troubleshoot.

      For now, please try listening to the Orcasound Lab sounds via live.orcasound.net/orcasound-lab

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      Orcasound Lab is working, but it currently re-starts on the half hour, so you may need to wait a few minutes around then and try re-loading live.orcasound.net

        1. Scott Veirs says:

          Hmmm. Can you get to orcasound.net ? If so, then go there, clear your browser cache, and then clean select the yellow Listen Live button.

        2. Scott Veirs says:

          Hmmm. Can you get to orcasound.net ? If so, then go there, clear your browser cache, and then clean select the yellow Listen Live button. If not, let us know what device and browser you are using.

          1. Anna Stenmark says:

            Hi, I tried to empty cache and restart my phone but it still wont work. I got on my laptop to try it today but it is not working on there either. When I click “listen live” it takes me to a blank page.

          2. Scott Veirs says:

            Strange. I think this is new behavior that hasn’t been reported. Can you tell me what browser you are using (on phone and laptop)?

          3. Anna Stenmark says:

            On my phone I use Samsung’s browser and on my laptop I use edge but tried it with firefox too. Still no luck.

  2. Greg Chase says:

    Orcas are off of Bush Point right now 11/10/18 3:30 pm.

    I live here at Bush Point

    Greg Chase

  3. Katharine Bender says:

    Amazing! Can’t tell exactly what I’m hearing but I do hear some small tapping noises besides the sound of “water”.
    Thanks for putting this opportunity together. I’ll check in now and then- I live in Langley.

  4. Colleen Ohair says:

    Have tried multiple times to listen but just get a blank white screen when I go to the site. No sound or words. Been trying for a couple months – I live at bush point.

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      Hi Colleen, sorry you’re having trouble. Please follow the link to the user feedback form so we can understand your situation. The good news is that we’ll be making some changes over the winter that should improve player performance (beyond our current ~80% success rate). For now, my best advice is to try the Chrome browser on whatever operating systems and devices you prefer.

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      Hi Linda, yes it is still operational. Though the original hydrophones suffered over the winter, Lon put in a back-up hydrophone that seems to be surviving…

      I think what you experienced is that you tried to listen at ~30 minutes after the hour. Due to software stability issues, we often reboot the streaming computer at 30 minutes after an hour. When that happens, the stream doesn’t work for a minute or two.

      So, try again and let us know if it’s still not working for you!

  5. charles h haas says:

    I’m a retired sonar engineer and I’m considering doing some private studies of ocean sounds. “private” means I don’t have money and I’m doing this to satisfy my own intellectual curiosity. I have many years of experience in sonar engineering and ocean acoustics, subjects that I’ve always found fascinating. I guess that qualifies me as a citizen scientist. I’d like to know if your sound data is available as digital data. If additional data (ships AIS for example) that would be useful in analyzing the recorded data, that would be helpful also. Ocean Netwoks Canada offers his type of data but I’d like to have several sources if possible.

    Thanks for your time and consideration

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      Hi Charles,
      We’d welcome your expertise. You can learn more about the technical aspects of the project, including data access, at the Orcasound support page that describes our technical roadmap. Basically, we are moving towards a system where all acoustic data is streamed to cloud storage. Later in 2019 some environmental and metadata (like AIS information) may be stored in the cloud, too, but right now is only logged locally at select nodes. In the interim, you may browse samples of Orcasound data products.

  6. Mark says:

    Hello! If I wanted to buy a consumer level hydrophone and listen/record off my dock near Port Williams, do I need to file any paperwork or a permit?

    1. Scott Veirs says:

      Thanks for listening, Pat. Try indicating what you hear by pressing the “I hear something interesting” button in the new version of the live-player, which you can access in any web browser here —


  7. Kathleen Fussell says:

    I would love to hear more about this project. I see no posts after 2020. I am in the Seattle area.

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