Pacific Orcinus Distribution Survey (PODS)

Goal: To conduct a study of the distribution and behavior of Southern Resident killer whales in the outer coastal waters off Washington, Oregon and California.

Time Period: 2004-Present

Our Role: To operate the passive acoustic hardware and software systems used in this vessel based study of killer whales. Data are post-processed after each survey, and field reports are provided for incorporation into larger final reports and publications.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northwest Fisheries Science Center has been conducting 2-4 week vessel-based surveys since 2004 to study the distribution and behavior of Southern Resident killer whales in the winter and spring when they leave the inland waters of the Puget Sound area. Researchers from Bio-Waves, Inc. work closely with NOAA researchers during these surveys to collect passive acoustic data 24 hours per day using a towed hydrophone array and opportunistic sonobuoy deployments. The main goal of the acoustics effort during these surveys is to detect, locate, and track southern resident killer whales. This includes providing visual observers with acoustic localizations to obtain sightings during daylight operations, and acoustically tracking animals overnight in order to be within visual proximity of the animals at the start of daytime operations. Bio-Waves assisted in the design and development of the towed hydrophone array system used during these surveys. These passive acoustic methods play an essential role in in locating and tracking killer whales and have resulted in many of the killer whale encounters during these surveys.

Sponsor: NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC)

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