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.
- Lon first to hear J+K pods entering Puget Sound at Bush Point (11/11/2020)
- Listeners detect J pod’s fourth fall visit to Puget Sound (11/3/2020)
- Orcas head north & south for Salish Sea salmon (9/27/2020)
- Happy 4th! Bigg’s killer whales heard at Bush Point (7/4/2020)
- New Lab-core hydrophones on the Bush Point B&B pilings! (12/18/2019)
Best images from the Bush Point hydrophone 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.
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!