Thursday, January 27, 2011
But back to whales. Kathryn is finding some interesting results, some of which support Morton's rules and some of which don't (Awe come on, you didn't think that these complex animals would fit nicely into some neat set of rules we made up. That is one of the things that makes them so fascinating after all). If you want to read some of the details you can find them in her poster below (We've made the poster large so that hopefully you can read the fine print. You may also have to zoom in on your web browser). Kathryn is currently finishing up her analyses and writing up her thesis. We'll try to update when that process is finished.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Joe was even interviewed for King 5 news (with a cameo appearance from Scott helping to determine that this was L pod). See that coverage here.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
When I got to Lime Kiln this morning, I didn’t have a good feeling about the day. I had missed the whales by ten minutes, and apparently it had been a very exciting passby. A few minutes later I saw a huge splash on the horizon – the second half of J pod was coming north behind the group I had missed. They passed us slowly and didn’t come very close to shore, but the hydrophones picked up some interesting sounds. Recently, J pod has taken to using a flat-frequency pulsed call that I can’t identify. It sounds something like S16, a common K pod call, and Jeanne Hyde and I are starting to wonder if J pod whales are imitating their K pod relatives. Listen to the clip below and leave a comment if the call sounds familiar to you. I also heard another strange call that I have now heard on three or four occasions. I've dubbed it the “human call” because the first time I heard it, I thought a person was making the sound! Listen to the second clip and let me know if you’ve ever heard this call (turn the volume up all the way to hear).
Around 9:30, we got word that the two J pod groups had met up to the north of us and were heading back down toward Lime Kiln. At this point, a thick blanket of fog had rolled in and we were relying on our ears to detect the whales. By the time they got to us, the whales had fallen into a resting pattern and were tightly bunched together. This is one of my favorite ways to see killer whales, and the experience was made all the more ethereal by the fog surrounding them. Some animals were still active and we could make out their profiles as they breached just beyond our view. It was strange to hear the huge splashes without being able to see what the whales were doing! At this point, the whales were vocalizing very little, as is common during resting. The group (which consisted of J pod and a few members of L pod) turned around one more time and drifted north with the flood tide.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Why, you ask, is it important to detect whales at night with infrared cameras when we have hydrophones that do that? Well, the reality is that the resident orcas make some awesome sounds, but they don't always make sounds, so it would be nice to be able to detect them even when they aren't calling. This is most important in regards to marine renewable energy projects. If new projects are approved there will be a need to monitor marine mammals in their vicinity during the day and night.
During the week that they were here, the whales obliged by going past the light house several times during the night which allowed for some pretty nice videos and some great data that Joe will be working on for his masters degree. Watch the video below to see one pass by on the night of July 7th. There are two animals that surface first, and if you look closely you'll see a calf come up just to the left of the animals.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Don't be alarmed by the knife! I'm not trying to cut any cables, just the ends off a zip tie so that it doesn't bang against a hydrophone. The hydrophone stand is an old tire filled with concrete, with a PVC pipe sticking out of it so that we can fasten instruments to it. The long object on the top is our Reson hydrophone, which is our broad band hydrophone that allows us to record sounds over a very broad range of frequencies (pitch). Although it's hard to see there are another two hydrophones fastened to the PVC pipe below the Reson. Yes, it's true, we do a lot of our fastening down there with electrical tape. It is amazing how it sticks to itself, even under water. That blue thing on the left is the camera we installed on this dive. It is was a little tricky deciding how to 'frame' the shot from that camera, especially since we couldn't see the shot (you have to view it from the computer on land). We decided to try and aim it up and back towards land since that way at least we could see the kelp. We hope that we might be able to record a few orcas swimming past this summer, but we'll see if we get that lucky. Below is a short clip I took afterward to make sure the camera was working. Since the currents were picking up you can see how much kelp fronds oscillate in the current.
The grounding wire was installed to try and decrease the amount of hum that you sometimes get from trying to record sound. This is usually the 60 Hz hum that you get from the power lines, but we also sometimes pick up stuff that isn't really audible underwater, like radio transmissions. It's amazing how much of a difference having a grounding wire can make. We attached our grounding wire to a metal pipe to make sure there is plenty of metal exposed to the water to make a good ground. This is what the setup looked like.
The dive itself went really smoothly and we actually got to see a lot of stuff around us. Sometimes that is not the case since we are so busy. This time around, there were a couple of rock fish that didn't seem concerned about us at all. In fact they almost seemed inquisitive since they watched us feeding cables and rope through the protective pipe from a distance of only thee feet. Here is a pic of one of them.