Monarch Head Hydrophone Redeployment

It was a beautiful, sunny and calm morning as the crew from Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), Tom, Jeff and Ryan met up with Capt. Larry Peck and others from Saturna Island Marine Research and Education Society (SIMRES) at the “Wild Thyme” Bus on Saturna Island. Wednesday, July 6th at 8AM. The famed breakfast wraps went down well as the excited group strategized for the re-installation of the “Ian Smyth” hydrophone with a new anchor, cable and protective armour at Monarch Head that day.

Moving down to the dock at Lyall Harbour, the group was joined by Brian Dearden from Mayne Island with his 25' aluminum work boat. It's a tough little beast of burden, and needed to be as the crew loaded several hundred pounds of cable, sections of iron pipe, a 360lb slab of concrete and ancillary equipment aboard. Some more went onto Meriah, Larry's wooden Ketch, which also towed 2 inflatables and, of course, victuals for a hungry, hard-working bunch to last through a long day.

Brian and the boys from ONC arrived at Monarch Head first and assembled the metal pipe, which would protect the vulnerable cable at the volatile shoreline. The last cable had been crushed by a three tonne rock, which the sea had rolled casually onto it in a 'Southeaster' the previous winter! The pipe was towed and wrestled into position using floats and brute strength.

Then Meriah arrived and there were improbably deft exchanges of heavy rolls of cable and the cement block, which was to anchor the hydrophone, was lowered by the windlass at Meriah's bow into position. The cable was threaded through the protective sleeves and pulled into position.

Most of the crew on Meriah ate a very good lunch ably served by Serena, Larry's daughter.

Brent Sohier, who was to dive and connect the cable and set the hydrophone in place arrived in yet another addition to the fleet, skippered by Davey and set to work. Notwithstanding the strong currents on the surface and below, low tide having now turned to come in with a rush, all was set in place and preliminary success declared.

The ride home in the afternoon light and air was spectacular. Later, the technicians visited the computer base on Cliffside Road and set up the electronics, completing a well-executed installation involving many willing and able partners. Now the data on shipping noise, the sounds of whales and other marine environmental sounds will be available to better understand what is going on, and to enhance the flourishing of the whales in the Salish Sea.

- David Osborne