Pender Whale Sanctuary Underwater Listening Station

Photo by Lance Barrett-Lennard / Ocean Wise.

The Pender Underwater Listening Station is in an Interim Sanctuary Zone for Southern Resident killer whales, which is an area where vessel traffic is prohibited in key whale foraging areas to reduce acoustic and physical disturbance.

Our audio stream is experiencing intermittent outages. We are upgrading it with a new hydrophone, which should be in place by mid-June, 2024.

Two people installing a hydrophone by the water.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Expanding our work to protect Southern Resident killer whales

For more than a decade, Raincoast has been using science, the courts and government engagement to advance recovery measures for SRKW. Our new underwater listening program will continue this effort by improving scientific and public understanding of  the exposure of SRKW to vessel noise and disturbance within an Interim Sanctuary Zone in the Salish Sea. Data acquired from our new, acoustic and visual monitoring station in the Sanctuary will help inform development and implementation of new or strengthened regulations and enforcement efforts in support of the recovery of the SRKW population

Tracking noise

The strategic location of the underwater listening station will also allow us to demonstrate the use of the area by other at-risk marine mammals species, including Northern Resident and Bigg’s killer whales, porpoises and humpback whales, by listening for their characteristic vocalizations..

In addition to monitoring the use of the Pender Island Interim Sanctuary Zone by both whales and boats, our listening station will continuously measure underwater noise levels. Noise data from the site will be made available to NoiseTracker, a collaboration between hydrophone operators in British Columbia to present underwater noise levels at multiple locations in British Columbia on a shared, user-friendly website. 

A pod Southern Resident killer whales breaching the surface with a spray of water.
This photograph was taken from land. Photo by K. Cullen.

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