Thursday, October 22, 2009

They're back and making themselves heard!

During Wednesday's satellite meeting we had a pleasant interruption; orcas were once again spotted off the pier here at the marine science center. Last time they came through I missed them and seeing them out there reminded me how fortunate I am to be working on such an important and exciting project.

Although they were off in the distance towards Whidbey Island we were able to see them clearly with the binoculars- several dorsal fins, a few breaches and even a spy-hop. While we observed we were able to listen to them vocalize on our hydrophone (underwater microphone) here at the center. If you are out on the pier go behind the center and listen to what is happening live.

You can also listen live online at Scroll down the page and click on Listen to Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Vocalizations from Wednesday should be posted soon, but you can listen to prior recordings right now!

Currently several organizations, Orca Network, the Whale Museum, Beam Reach, SMRU Ltd. and our very own Port Townsend Marine Science Center are assisting in a project tracking the travels made by the Southern Resident killer whales in Admiralty Inlet. Hydrophones are being used to record vocalizations made at different depths in the Inlet. This information assists researchers in understanding the depths orcas dive. Snohomish Public Utility District will reference data collected in this study while making decisions on a potential plan to build underwater turbines in the Inlet. These turbines would use tidal currents to produce energy for use throughout the Puget Sound. For more information on PUD's project check out their website

Seeing killer whales in the wild is such an amazing experience! The project above needs your help reporting sightings. If you are lucky enough to spot orcas please immediately call 1-866-ORCANET or e-mail sightings to You can even receive updates on sightings via e-mail by signing up at

Good Luck spotting orcas!


  1. Great post Heather!


  2. I agree with Jonathan, this was a fantastic post! Also, I love the new signage for the hydrophone listening station!


Want to leave us a comment? Just type in your message below; we'd love to hear from you!