Orcas Live on OrcaLab

The next best thing to watching orcas in person is watching them from my desk in West Seattle, thanks to OrcaLab’s video stream

Paul Spong and Helena Symonds at OrcaLab pioneered the concept of non-invasive orca research, recording, watching, and listening to the whales unobtrusively from their perch on Hanson Island, B.C. And they’ve given us all a window onto the whales’ world, with newly relaunched video streams.

  • Listen.You can also hear the whales at http://www.orca-live.net/orca.asx. OrcaLab’s hydrophones record the underwater noises in Blackfish Sound and nearby Johnstone Strait, and paint an aural picture of the landscape.

    You will often hear the drone of boat engines, but this time of year, you might also hear orcas!

    • Each pod has a unique set of calls. Trained listeners know which whales are around, simply by listening to them. See if you can pick out the distinctive corkscrew whistles of the A5s, or the lilting calls of the I-15s.
    • Very occasionally, you might hear dolphins or humpbacks too.

Thanks to Paul, Helena, Leah, Marie and everyone at OrcaLab for letting us experience the whales, without disturbing them. A model for how it should be done!

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Donna's Bio

Donna Sandstrom has been interested in orcas since 1982, when she moved to Seattle. She saw her first orca from the deck of the Gikumi in Johnstone Strait in 1985.

Over the next years she produced events like OrcaFest 1995, and a symposium "Lolita Come Home" in 1996. She is expert at bringing diverse people together to achieve a common goal, a skill honed during her 14 years in software development at Adobe Systems.

In 2002, Donna was part of the effort to return Springer, an orphaned orca, to her pod and native waters on the north end of Vancouver Island. The project is the only successful orca rehabilitation in history. In July 2013, Springer was seen with her first calf!

Inspired by Springer's success, and alarmed at the plight of the southern resident orcas, Donna started The Whale Trail in 2008. Contact her at donna@thewhaletrail.org. 206.919.5397

The Whale Trail is a nonprofit organization in partnership with
Partners NOAA Seattle Aquarium People for Puget Sound Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife The Whale Museum National Marine Sanctuaries