Last week a group of grade 8 students took a field trip to learn more about the Central Coast Hydrophone Network. This outing was the culmination to a series of classroom presentations on marine mammal acoustics that Diana Chan from Pacific Wild had given the grade 8 science classes this spring.
The morning began with a visit to the Pacific Wild float lab. The students got to see the system for recording and monitoring the hydrophones, as well as listen to some of the archived recordings of whales in the area.
We left the lab and headed towards one of the hydrophone stations, hoping to see whales along the way. We were in luck! Someone spotted a huge splash far in the distance, and we all turned our attention to off the port side of the boat. As we idled closer, the humpback whale continued to breach several times in the middle of the channel, and then moved right next to shore where it slapped its tail on the water. We lowered a portable hydrophone into the water to see if the whale was vocalizing, but it was not; we could hear only the frequent slapping of its tail. We watched the whale’s interesting behaviour for almost half an hour, speculating as to why it was so close to land, before leaving the humpback and continuing on our way.
We arrived at the Dearth Island station of the Central Coast Hydrophone Network and the group scrambled off the boat to check out the alternative energy and transmission system and have a listen to the site. After a full morning focused on marine mammals, we headed back to Bella Bella as dolphins played in the wake of the boat.
Photos by Johanna Gordon-Walker.