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Sound is Essential for Orcas

Orcas rely on sound to navigate and communicate in the dark world underwater. Light travels just a few feet in our murky waters, which makes sight useful only in close encounters. Sound can travel for miles, making it possible for orcas to communicate with each other, navigate and locate prey over long distances.

Hydrophones are underwater microphones that allow us to listen in on the sounds that orcas make underwater and get some clues about what they might be doing. Then we can start asking questions—When did they make the sounds? Which calls were they using? Which whales were seen on the surface and what were they doing? We can start to see patterns and use these patterns to learn more about life in an orca pod.

Using hydrophones we can listen for orcas as they travel throughout the Salish Sea. By learning to identify their calls, you can help researchers learn more about how our local orca pods use this critical habitat.

Listen to them talk!

Try Listening For Orcas in this recording of whales calling to each other. Can you identify whether you're hearing J Pod, K Pod, or L Pod? Click the button below to learn how.

Ken Balcomb Video

Click the image to watch a traveling orca pod in the Salish Sea.

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