SIMRES Boundary Pass Monitoring & Outreach Initiative 2018-2019

Many people have little conception of what lies beneath the surface of the Salish Sea. SIMRES has established a hydrophone array at East Point on Saturna Island positioned to monitor both whale populations and shipping in Boundary Pass, the main entrance channel to the Strait of Georgia and the Port of Vancouver. This location is now being recognized as an area of particular environmental concern because commercial activity is having such an impact on marine life in this area. The impact of ship noise on the endangered southern resident orca populations creates a major stress challenge to their continued survival. From the largest freighter to the smallest pleasure boat, our hydrophones are collecting acoustic data showing the effects of underwater noise on marine life from these vessels.

SIMRES has received grants from DFO and the Victoria Foundation and will be reaching out to the general public about the impact of underwater noise, through social media and public presentations. Our intention is to show how the whales, seals and fishes use sounds to orient themselves and communicate underwater, how underwater noise affects marine life, and how it can be reduced. This information can be illustrated with real examples from the Salish Sea by streaming whale vocalizations, underwater videos and real monitoring data from humpback whales, killer whales, fish and white-sided dolphins collected from our array at East Point. Our objective is to encourage research activity, then use this and other data to provide the information required in order to promote a better understanding of our marine ecosystems. With the help of real soundscape sampling and visual imagery we can bring to life what is happening below the surface of the Salish Sea, highlight the challenges we face in protecting our marine environment and show people what we can do to help reduce the threats to our whale populations.

*Grants amounting to $25,000 have been received from Fisheries & Oceans Canada and the Victoria Foundation for SIMRES to increase our Social Media capacity and to support our Education and Outreach initiatives.