Category Archives: Research

J & L

48 25.22N 122 43.64W Travel, medium distribution. W-bound. Interesting vocal change toward the end, as the fleet goes from mostly set to mostly paralleling. Coincidence?

Listen here (5.4MB)

J’s near Davidson

48 25.46N 122 45.48W 1519 Moving sporadically toward Davidson Rock. Lots of breeching, and a few spy-hops. The pod was traveling in three groups, all within a mile of each other, alternating between 8-9kt travel and what looked like foraging behavior. 

Considerable noise from the sea state, and occasionally I forget to turn off the depth-sounder…

Listen here (1.2MB) and here (0.6MB)

Super-pod at Battleship

Lat: 48 37.69N; Lon: 123 13.26W 1248 Making about 7kts toward Kellet Bluff.

One of the frustrations of a sensitive hydrophone is that any abrasion of the cable against the hull of the boat results in quite a bit of noise. You can hear some of that in the last third of the recording, below. I’m crafting a fleece-padded outrigger in an attempt to mitigate this.

Listen here (1.1MB)

J & L in Rosario Strait

J’s and L’s between Williamson Rock and Lawson Reef, southbound around 1600, July 7. This is the most active part of the recording, with some strong echolocation clicks and whistles. The predominant noise (low-rev “clanking”) is from a tanker in the shipping lanes, about 3 miles away. 

Listen here (1.4MB)

SRKW call frequency response to boat noise?

The field season is rolling, with all three southern resident killer whale pods “in the area,” and whale watchers packing all of our favorite boats. I’ve been hanging out with these animals for five years now, and for the first time I’m trying my hand at research. Here is the full text of my research proposal. Keep in mind, this is undergraduate work…don’t expect doctoral quality stuff here. ;-)


The quick and dirty: If the SRKWs calls are being masked by boat (or other) noise, they have three avenues to increase their ability to be heard. They could increase the duration of their calls (Foote, 2004), increase the amplitude of their calls(Scheifele, et al, 2005), or “shift” (using the term loosely) the frequency of their calls. Thomas (1999) showed that antarctic killer whales avoid competition for acoustic space by shifting the bulk of their calls to frequency bands outside of those used by leopard seals. Could SRKWs be responding the same way to boat noise? Hopefully we’ll find out.

Joe Olson at Cetacean Research Technology hooked me up with a calibrated C54XRS flat-response hydrophone that runs through a 20Hz high-pass filter to a FR-2LE field recorder (96kHz sample rate). I’ll be analyzing the calls using RAVEN, once my advisor hooks me up with a PC laptop. 

All of my recordings will be made from aboard M/V Glacier Spirit and M/V Olympus of Puget Sound Express

Spring 2008 Beam Reach research online

The first spring Beam Reach program ended 10 days ago.  Student research projects are documented at the spring 2008 class home page.  Proposals and final papers are available as of today.  Presentations will be posted in the next week or so as PPT files and/or videos.

Brad Hanson on orca diet

Monster Jam, Brad Hanson, 07/04/05

Diet of southern resident killer whales

Inferences from prey samples and sensors deployed on killer whales
Time-depth-recorder deployments in southern residents

  • Baird and Hansen+? (2005) J Canadian Zoology
  • 40 deployments from 1993-2002
  • ~10.5 minutes median record duration
  • L87 Haro Strait example record: 2 dives to 100m with velocity spikes near deepest point; 2 dives to 20m with velocity spikes (~4m/s peak)
  • overall bimodal distribution with most dives to 25m or 100-150m…
  • compare with fisheries data: Quinn says sockeye usually at 16m, Chinook ~70m; Horne says larger echosounder targets are common at 100m (trawl there gave dogfish and juvenile salmon)

2002 crittercam on J25 (1.5 hr data total) example from S Lopez

  • Blows bubbles before surfacing
  • Blow hole puckers during vocalization

Foraging behavior (samples/behavior metric) is more often defined by low energy behavior (slow convergence) than high

Molecular Genetic analysis
(scales and tissue ~77 samples; about 150 if you include fecal, mucous, regurgitations)

Most samples collected N/S of false bay, SJI

Primary seasonal prey species:

  • Chinook (primarily in June-Aug)
  • Little data from Sept/oct
  • Chum in Oct/Nov/Dec
  • NO sockeye or pinks
  • ==> are seals and orcas partitioning resources?

From which river systems did the ingested chinook come? (L. Weitkamp, unpublished)
base on (genetic sampling) via coded wire tag program?

  • May: southern puget sound fish! (only one Fraser)
  • June-Sept:
  1. Predominance of Fraser
  2. upper fraser first in  mid Jun-aug; then South Thompson;  then mixed in Sept
  3. One central valley ca
  4. Some N sound, but minimal S sound

Fecal data from sep and oct and nov include evidence of dover sole and lingcod

Planned collections in 2007: June and Sept
Desire for May and Oct collections