Pacific Wild placing underwater microphones on B.C.’s Central Coast

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The waters of the Great Bear Rainforest are filled with beautiful species and plenty of mysteries. Where marine mammals travel, and where they make the most noise, is largely based on anecdotal evidence.

But a new project hopes to improve our data with underwater microphones, known as hydrophones.

The environmental group Pacific Wild has placed six hydrophones in the waters just off the Central Coast. Working with the Heiltsuk Nation, they’re hoping to get a better sense of how animals use the waterways by monitoring ocean noise over time. You can listen to some of the hydrophones and see exactly where they’re located here.

WATCH: A curious sea otter checks out one of Pacific Wild’s underwater hydrophones.

“Most of the species that are acoustically sensitive rely on a quiet ocean in order to communicate, in order to forage, in order to survive here,” says Ian McAllister. He says the need to get better data on the waters of the rainforest is especially critical because B.C. potentially faces a massive rise in tanker traffic in the coming decades.

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“If all of the proposals that are currently on the books went forward for the north coast of British Columbia, it would facilitate up to 3,000 separate tanker trips a year,” he says.

“We’re working as hard we can to establish these acoustic thresholds that will allow us to incorporate those into marine planning initiatives in the future.”

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