A lot of our time is spent looking for whales and dolphins. When we find them, we assume that the animals are in a particular place for a good reason. The area that the animals occupy is their habitat, and much of our scientific research aims to identify why animals are found in some areas and not others. The aim is to identify the kind of habitat that species prefer, and to conduct science that lends support for legal protection of important habitats for marine wildlife. Sometimes this is as coarse as simply animal mapping distribution from surveys. Sometimes, it gets pretty fine-scale, and involves studies to identify areas that whales use preferentially for feeding or other activities. The underlying motivation is to include a spatial component to setting priority areas for conservation: marine spatial planning is a great tool for shaping discussions about how to use the same patch of water for multiple purposes, such as fishing, shipping and providing critical habitat for whale and dolphin conservation. We work on two main areas of marine habitat protection, namely chronic ocean noise analyses and designing and working in marine protected areas.
We recently published a paper reporting ocean noise levels in important whale habitats along the BC coast. At the same time, we released an animation that outlined the key concepts. Our research showed that the most important habitats for killer whales were the noisiest; important habitats for humpback whales were comparatively quiet.
We thought you might like to hear for yourself what those sites sound like. Don’t worry. We won’t make you listen to all 10,000 hours of recordings, but our co-authors (Dimitri Ponirakis and Chris Clark) at Cornell University’s Bioacoustics Research Program distilled some of the results into this nifty PowerPoint slide. It’s a big file (22MB), but it lets you see and hear what Haro Strait and Douglas Channel sound like.
The neatest part of Dimitri’s work is that there was a windstorm partway through this period. You can hear the wind on the recordings made off Kitimat (Douglas Channel), but the same wind noise cannot be heard in Haro Strait over the background noise from ships. We still have a lot of work to do to understand what these noise levels might mean to whales and fish in terms of ecological effects, but we thought you might like to see and hear some of the recordings. Please let us know what you think.
<iframe src=”http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/28172039″ width=”427″ height=”356″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC;border-width:1px 1px 0;margin-bottom:5px” allowfullscreen> </iframe> <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/oceansinitiative/fig-s1-exampleltsasandaudiofilesharostraitandkitimat” title=”Fig s1 example_lts_as_and_audio_files_haro_strait_and_kitimat” target=”_blank”>Fig s1 example_lts_as_and_audio_files_haro_strait_and_kitimat</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/oceansinitiative” target=”_blank”>Oceans Initiative</a></strong> </div>