Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Orcas on Hydrophones? Nope, Just Sonar.

Last night, on both Lime Kiln and Orcasound hydrophones, listeners were surprised to hear some peculiar sounds. Not the sounds of orcas, or the regular shipping traffic, but the sounds of human voices and mid-frequency sonar pings. I'm listening to the recordings made by Scott Veirs of Beam Reach now and it is quite clear that these sounds are not a part of the natural environment.

Jeanne Hyde of The Whale Museum contacted the Bellingham Coast Guard and confirmed that the Navy was doing exercises in Haro Strait. Scott Veirs recorded the sounds and created spectrograms of the human voices and sonar.

To listen to the recordings, go to the Lime Kiln or Orcasound hydrophone sites, scroll down through the archived sounds, and click on one of the most recent recordings with the words "voice" and "sonar" in the title.

Edited to add @ 4:15 pm: This story has now been covered by the San Juan Journal. Also, could the human voices be spies? Some folks, commenting Christopher Dunagan's blog, think that a numbers station could have been in use.

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