There are underwater microphones installed around San Juan Island, and they are streaming live continuously to the internet. It’s called OrcaSound, and it’s supposed to be about hearing whale songs, but I’ve been listening for the last hour and all I hear are boat engines. It’s soothing, actually: a kind of continuous rumble, with a rhythmic throb. One boat just went by that has a weird syncopated rattle, and it slowly rises as it gets closer and fades as it passes by. And just now a second engine has joined the chorus — it sounds like sawing wood. If you like percussion and a good background drone, check it out.
I’d probably be startled out of my zen state if a whale started singing.
Also, one has to wonder whether the orcas are fans of all the noise pollution in their neighborhood since the apes started flopping around in their ocean.
Uh-oh. It’s getting intense right now. Gotta zone out.
PZ Myers says
This is so good. It’s like the background noise of my brain made manifest.
There’s been some talk over the last few decades about equipping large ships with sails, or some other form of wind power, to conserve fuel. It’s basically free energy, so why not?
Unfortunately, petroleum is still less expensive than the cost of retrofitting or the extra cost of labor to manage a new system, but I always liked the idea.
They’re too focused on hunting down scrumptious morsels of shark liver to care. From memory there was one documented instance of such a thing near the Farallon Islands and investigators had speculated based on ray flipping that some orcas have learned to induce torpor in elasmobranchs as a hunting strategy. Such ruthless attacks allegedly strike fear in the hearts of the sharks, who scatter to their safe spaces.
Folks now speculate some rogue orcas are doing the same thing off the coast of South Africa. It’s hurting shark tourism. I saw it on a recent documentary but here’s an article:
The Hannibal Lecter behavior has jumped oceans? A 100th orca effect? If only they knew about the fava beans and chianti.
I still wonder if this is a real thing or press and documentary sensationalism because of the apex predator gladiator angle. Could this become a wildlife management problem if orcas started become more into attacking large sharks worldwide while humans are becoming more cognizant of the plight of sharks and protecting shark fisheries?
The noise interferes with their hunting and is a contributing factor in their decline.
NATO militaries might have a lot of audio data on whale behaviour hidden in their archives given that they’ve been running SOSUS and other systems for decades.
PZ Myers says
I’ve been listening to this for hours. Right now it’s much calmer, just a rhythmic slapping sound with a sussuration in the background.
Apparently they’re at it like mad right now.
Nope, sorry, false alarm…
Ian King says
I swear I hear pops and clicks in the higher frequencies, but I lack the experience to tell whether those are mechanical in origin.
Because frankly they sound like dolphins plotting.