The Salish Sea Hydrophone Network needs volunteers to help monitor the critical habitat of endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and listening for dangerous noises. The goal is to report whenever you hear something interesting, thereby notifying marine researchers and stewards when orcas are in the Salish Sea, and possibly being subjected to dangerous levels of human-made noise. Maintained by a broad coalition of non-profit organizations and initiated with major funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the network consists of five hydrophones (underwater microphones), each hooked up to a computer to analyze the signal and stream it to you via the internet. Even though software is used to distinguish animal from other underwater sound, human ears do a better job of detecting unusual sounds. So it's critical that volunteers also monitor the network from their favorite device anywhere in the world, and alert the rest of the network when they hear interesting or worrisome sounds. We've detected the use of military sonar and helped get it stopped. At night or during foggy days, our listeners help activate other researchers to study the whales the next clear day. In the long run, we will also engage our network and citizen scientists in deciphering orca communication and whale migration patterns.
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