June 16th, 2024

B.C. underwater microphones aim to protect whales from ship strikes: Ocean Wise

By The Canadian Press on April 6, 2024.

The Vancouver-based non-profit Ocean Wise says underwater microphones will be used to help protect whales from collisions with ships off British Columbia's coast. Killer whales play in Chatham Sound near Prince Rupert, B.C., Friday, June, 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver-based non-profit Ocean Wise says underwater microphones will be used to help protect whales from collisions with ships off British Columbia’s coast.

A statement from the group says the initiative marks the first time automatic detections from hydrophones will be used to inform nearby commercial vessels of the presence of whales through the Ocean Wise whale report alert system.

It says the alerts will help mariners determine when to slow down or stop to avoid disturbing or injuring whales in waters between Victoria and Metro Vancouver, an area that includes the critical habitat of endangered southern resident killer whales.

The statement says the hydrophones “dramatically improve” detection capabilities, especially when visibility is low or whales are submerged in the water.

It says the project is using a hydrophone array based at the Boundary Pass underwater listening station positioned below a major shipping lane.

A statement from Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez says Canada is getting better at reducing threats to endangered whale populations every year, and he looks forward to seeing the results of the hydrophone pilot project.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2024.

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