Over Victoria Day weekend, whale watchers in British Columbia were able to capture the acoustics of a pod of Bigg’s killer whales in the Discovery Island area using an underwater audio recorder. special sailor – and the results are captivating.
The whale watchers were on the trip with Wild Waterways Adventures, a tour company based in Quadra Island, British Columbia.
While it’s not impossible to hear whales above water with just the human ear, the technology used by Wild Waterways Adventures has made for a very unique experience even for seasoned whale watchers. .
“Being able to hear the [whales] like seeing them was magical,” said Jennifer Smalley, owner of Wild Waterways Adventures.
Audio was captured underwater using a hydrophone and broadcast above water using an amplifier.
Part of the thrill of this weekend was being able to spot Bigg’s killer whales, also known as transient killer whales. The species is named after the late Canadian marine biologist Michael Bigg, often described as a “pioneer” in killer whale research.
Bigg was the first to identify transient killer whales, recognizing that they move around more than other killer whales due to their diet. Unlike other killer whales, Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals. Typically, their diet consists of harbor seals, but can also include dolphins and even other species of whales.
Bigg’s killer whales can be difficult to see as they travel in small groups – also called pods – ranging from around 2 to 6 whales. Bigg’s killer whale acoustics are even harder to hear as it hunts quietly, using echoes to navigate the water and identify its prey.
Hydrophones do not work well underwater when other powerboats are nearby because their sounds interrupt the audio feedback. Wild Waterways Adventures travelers were lucky enough to be the only group in the area that day.
The encounter between whale watchers and Bigg’s orca pods was a perfect overlap of circumstances that made for a very special whale watching experience.
Under federal law, people must stay 400 yards from endangered whales and dolphins, such as southern resident killer whales, and 100 yards from others.
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