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Bioacoustic comments on the Washington State Ferries 2040 long-range plan

Today was the deadline for public comments on a 208-page draft “long-range” plan for Washington State Ferries (WSF). For the record, here are my comments (as President of Beam Reach) submitted via their web form. Don’t miss the very end; I really like the idea of hybrid ferries beam-reaching across the Sound under mega-kite power during much of the year!

“Beyond Executive Orders, WSF should acknowledge that underwater noise from ferries has potential environmental impacts on many marine species (not just the Southern Resident Killer Whales), and state a goal of reducing these impacts even if/after orcas are no longer struggling. I’d particularly like to see WSF articulate an understanding that its ferries generate noise at a wide range of frequencies — primarily from 1-1000 Hz where baleen whales emit most signals and have maximum auditory sensitivity, but also from 1,000 to at least 40,000 and possibly >100,000 Hz (at close ranges typical within Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands) where toothed whales emit most signals and have maximum auditory sensitivity. This frequency overlap of ferry noise and marine mammal sensitivity and signals means that WSF should be talking and thinking about minimizing acoustic impacts on SRKWs, Bigg’s killer whales, harbor porpoises, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific White-sided dolphin, minke whales, humpback whales, gray whales, Stellar and California sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, northern fur seals, as well as soniferous fish of the Salish Sea. Furthermore, the literature suggests potential impacts on invertebrates and even plankton.

Any design charrette should include consultation with Navy Region Northwest and relevant marine architectural firms with experience in quieting technologies and design/build methods for each ship class (not just ferries). I’m particularly interested in knowing whether there are big reductions in noise from design of unidirectional ferries that use bow thrusters to dock, but have primary propulsion only in one direction (thereby NOT having free-wheeling or reversing propellers at the current bow of the ship — the suspected source of the “clickety-clack” underwater noise signature of WSF ferries). New construction contracts should include noise emission standards that result in lower levels of noise (from 1 Hz -100,000 Hz) from the new vessel relative to noise levels of the vessel being replaced (or in the case of ferries add to the fleet, relative to the median noise spectrum for the fleet). Over time, the WSF fleet noise levels should decrease, ideally to ancient ambient noise levels (e.g. the 5% quantile of 1 minute spectrum levels).

Please ensure hybrid or all-electric ferries will be quieter (at all frequencies) than the vessel they replace? There is a danger that demand for faster ferries will result in increased noise levels; though the new vessel is quieter at the replaced vessel’s normal speed, it may be louder when operated at a new, faster speed (e.g. in order to increase reliability or reduce transit times).

As the old vessels are replaced, their source spectrum levels should be measured (at least opportunistically, e.g. in partnership with the Orcasound hydrophone network, or ideally via an ANSI-compliant methodology similar to the one employed by BC Ferries through a contract with JASCO). Similarly, new vessels should be measured using the same methodology so that the public can be assured that over the long-term, noise spectrum levels received by local marine species from the WSF fleet decrease to near natural ambient noise levels. If a new vessel under normal operating conditions has higher source levels (at any frequency relevant to local species) then it should NOT be accepted as a replacement!

Finally, two high-level thoughts:

1) Don’t forget that in some cases as ridership grows and more trips are made per day, that on some routes it may be a good long-term investment for the State to fund a tunnel or a bridge!

2) In the non-summer months, there are often strong north-south winds blowing across many WSF routes, most of which are oriented east-west. This suggests to me that there may be impressive gains in fuel efficiency and noise reduction by including sails or kites in the design of new, green ferries. There are recent precedents for such renewable propulsion in the commercial shipping sector (e.g. fixed sails and/or automated kites). Remember that a beam reach is the most powerful point of sail, and you’re on one most of the time!”

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History of bioacoustics (ASA 2018 spring webinar): birds, fish, marine mammals, and more

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Acoustical Society of America is offering select sessions via live and recorded webinars during their 175th meeting this week in Minnesota. I was even more pleased to see that there is some content relevant to animal bioacoustics!

Whitlow Au recounting his prolific and insightful Hawaiian bioacoustic studies.

This is the sort of increased public access I’ve felt ASA should undertake for years (though I still think they should make their online journals open-access). I’m inspired enough to become an associate member for the first time (also motivated by the nearby location of the next ASA meeting in Victoria, BC on 5-9 Nov, 2018).

So, here is a quick viewing guide to the bioacoustic talks given via webinar this week. (You don’t need to be an ASA member to register; just click one of the gotowebinar links below, provide your name and email, and then indicate via the dropdown menu whether or not you are a member. Upon registering, the video should start streaming in your browser.)

2aAB: History of Animal Bioacoustics (Cosponsored by: ASACOS)

Tuesday, 8 May 2018, 8:00am – 11:55am Central

Chair(s): David Mellinger (Oregon State University)


Viewing guide:
  • 0:00:36 — Avian bioacoustics (Dooling & Dent)
  • 0:25:00 — Fish bioacoustics (Popper & Dawkins)
  • 0:44:35 — Bioacoustic technology (Mellinger)
  • 1:06:50 — Marine noise impacts & regulation (Guan)
  • 1:24:17 — Office of Naval Research [ONR], 1990-2006 (Gisner)
  • 1:45:25 — ONR marine mammal & biology program, last decade (Weise)
  • 2:03:54 — Hawaii research (Au)
  • 2:31:40 — WHOI marine mammal research (Wartzok)







8:00 AM

8:05 AM

Chair’s Introduction

8:05 AM

8:25 AM

2aAB1 A Brief History of Avian Bioacoustics Robert Dooling

8:25 AM

8:45 AM

2aAB2 A History of Fish Bioacoustics Arthur N Popper

8:45 AM

9:05 AM

2aAB3 Webinar Pause

9:05 AM

9:25 AM

2aAB4 History of technology for studying animal sound and communication David K. Mellinger

9:25 AM

9:40 AM

2aAB5 A Brief History of Our Understandings on Underwater Noise Impacts to Marine Life and the Evolution of Its Regulatory Process in the United States Shane Guan

9:40 AM

9:55 AM

Break Webinar Pause

9:55 AM

10:15 AM

2aAB6 The Office of Naval Research Marine Mammal Program, 1990-2006 Robert Gisiner

10:15 AM

10:35 AM

2aAB7 Webinar Pause

10:35 AM

10:55 AM

Webinar Pause

10:55 AM

11:15 AM

Webinar Pause

11:15 AM

11:35 AM

2aAB10 History of bioacoustics research on aquatic and marine organisms in Hawaii Whitlow Au

11:35 AM

11:55 AM

2aAB11 The central role of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in marine mammal bioacoustics Douglas Wartzok

1pID: Introductions to Technical Committees

Monday, 7 May 2018, 1:00pm – 3:10pm Central

Chair(s): Jonathan Weber (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Tao Sun (Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Harvard Medical School; Tufts University), Vahid Naderyan (University of Mississippi)


Viewing guide:

0:38:45 — Overview of animal bioacoustics (Christine Erbe)

Links that she mentions:

1:09:05 — Psychological and Physiological Acoustics: Responses to sounds in biological systems (Frederick Jerome Gallun)







1:00 PM

1:10 PM

1pID1 The Technical Committee on Musical Acoustics: Diverse membership with a common interest James P. Cottingham

1:10 PM

1:20 PM

1pID2 An Introduction to the Engineering Acoustics Technical Committee Roger Richards

1:20 PM

1:30 PM

1pID3 Introduction to the Technical Committee on Physical Acoustics Veerle M. Keppens

1:30 PM

1:40 PM

1pID4 Webinar Pause

1:40 PM

1:50 PM

1pID5 Webinar Pause

1:50 PM

2:00 PM

1pID6 Overview of animal bioacoustics Christine Erbe

2:00 PM

2:10 PM

1pID7 Biomedical Acoustics: From Diagnostic Imaging to Treating Brain Disorders Subha Maruvada

2:10 PM

2:20 PM

1pID8 Introduction to the structural acoustics and vibration technical committee Robert M. Koch

2:20 PM

2:30 PM

1pID9 Introduction to the Technical Committee on Noise William J. Murphy

2:30 PM

2:40 PM

1pID10 Webinar Pause

2:40 PM

2:50 PM

1pID11 Psychological and Physiological Acoustics: Responses to sounds in biological systems Frederick Jerome Gallun

2:50 PM

3:00 PM

1pID12 It’s like ESP without the E: An Introduction to the Speech Communication Technical Committee Benjamin Munson

3:00 PM

3:10 PM

1pID13 Signal processing everywhere you look Zoi-Heleni Michalopoulou




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First meeting of the southern resident killer whale (SRKW) Task Force: video viewing guide and notes

Today (5/1/18), the first meeting of the southern resident killer whale (SRKW) Task Force was held in Lacey, WA, and was live-streamed by Washington TV. Established by Executive Order of Governor Inslee on March 14, the SRKW Task Force is co-chaired by Stephanie Solien and Les Purse and today approved a draft charter which orders it to “monitor and evaluate the immediate actions undertaken by state agencies” and “to identify, prioritize, and support the implementation of a longer term action plan needed for the recovery of the SRKWs…”

This blog post presents notes I took while listening to the live video, a few editorial comments, and easy access to the archived videos, including tables of contents for the morning and afternoon sessions. It’s worth watching the videos in their entirety, I think, partially because of the interesting cross-section of Washington State that is represented by the ~42 Task Force members and the members of the public who were in attendance, and partially because of the stories they told — many of them personal.

I also recommend reading the materials provided on the Governor’s web site, including agenda, draft charter, work plan, and a briefing packet. There will be Work Groups meeting later in May and many opportunities for public comments — either in-person at meetings, in writing, or via a comment form that will eventually be on the web site.

Morning session (10:30-12:40)


Morning session video:

Morning session video table-of-contents (time into 2nd video):

  • 1:10 Opening moment of silence and blessing
  • 2:50 Co-Chair Les opening comments
  • 5:05 Co-Chair Stephanie opening comments
  • 9:25 Facilitator Susan introduction and guidance
  • 10:15 Quick self-introductions by Task Force members
  • 14:35 Quick self-introductions by members of the general public
  • 21:30 Susan goes over agenda
  • 23:40 Video technical difficulties… for ~5 minutes
  • 28:15 Project Manager Nora: Overview of work ahead and resources
  • 35:40 Governor Inslee arrives and is introduced by Stephanie
  • 37:21 Jay begins his comments
    • find a way to engage all Washingtonians — orchard worker as much as WW operator; not just Chinook salmon fishers; across all sectors; all stepping up to plate to make some commitment (irrigation systems, maritime industry, runnoff, etc)
    • Be artists (Van Goghs, Monets) of public policy (for our grand-children)
    • Myth of impossibility: Can’t save orcas with human growth of +65k people/yr
  • 44:10 Q&A with Governor
    • Pinniped management – tribal leader (who opened with prayer)
    • Chad – dispatched as a wolf, we were the killer whale, maintain cultural identities
    • Hatchery production – Ilwaco leader
    • Dam removal – Palouse tribal member (Ice Harbor first), ancestral homelands
  • 1:07:00 Round Robin – statement of greatest hopes
  • Co-chair Les:

Lyrics from Patrick Duvott – high plains of OR/ID/NV

The Heart Mountain Waltz
Let us meet on Heart Mountain when the desert is blooming
Creeks sing through the…
Hope: communicate despite all our differences
  • 1:12:10 Co-chair Stephanie:
I hope that we can come together, make significant progress in next 2 years, and then use this ability to collaborate as people from different walks of life to develop a model for how we can move forward on other natural resource challenges. Let’s be leaders in a new approach for how to work together to be *stewards* of a “world unwound”
  • Gaydos: use science in room to recover species
  • Jeff F: come up with new strategies to counter changes we’ve seen on the water in the last 5yrs (rarely seeing residents; careful with managing pinnipeds as they’re transient food)
  • Dickinson (Squaxin Tribe): manage Chinook as we have in the Puget Sound
  • #5: break out of our single-species management perspective, (write the last chapter of the MarMam Protection Act — how to manage a species when they’ve recovered to the detriment of other species — dogs run sea lions off marina docks, aka refugia from sharks and transients
  • Wellman (Sci Panel PSP, Northern Economics social scientist): get all Washingtonians engaged in turning ship around
  • Will ??: help people of WA to make different choices, being honest about costs/benefits of how we influence fish, toxins, and vessels…
  • Brent Nichols (Spokane tribe): 90% of diet used to be salmon, 1939 Grand Coulee blocked; focus on issues with broad State-wide perspective, not just Puget Sound
  • George Harris (NW Trade Assoc): use best-available science when we talk about tough issues; consider value of recreational fishing (4B, 28,000 jobs, single-largest contributor to WA outdoor economy)
  • Jacque White: born 6 miles from here — so much has changed in my lifetime (82k people moved to central PS last year): address and be prepared for changes that are coming — look forward; know how much is enough (tech work groups — give us numbers!)
  • Butch Smith (Ilwaco WA charter biz): fear — we’ll science this thing to death; hope — act now.
  • Chad: take blueprint from Nat Ocean Policy and spread it out over State governments, learning how to work efficiently on interdisciplinary issue (e.g. Depts of Ecology and ?? sometimes can’t come out of respective silos due to statutary limitations)
  • Next ?: ask established scientists what they would do
  • Maya (Dir DoEcology): ripple effect (when people see trash on road, they understand how not to litter, but in the oceans there is often no way for them to see/experience the problem); connect orcas to water quality, run-off, and all other related issues
  • Sheida: we look back and realize this is the day we changed the fate of the SRKWs
  • Next ??: good news — 20 years of forest land policies that protect streams (buffers, runoff management) and we’ve removed 74% of fish barriers on WA streams (300M long-term capital investments by public and private). hope — we can leverage past investments
  • Conservation District: engage with land-owners so that they feel part of the solution — they understand challenges and are willing to participate. Hope — part of solution is a continuing, transparent public process so that the public can see progress.
  • Reef netter in San Juans: hope we come together to heal the Sound (since early 80s I’ve seen a “slow downward slide” “it’s dying”); we’ve only been able to fish ever 3rd or 4th year in last decade or so. Bristol Bay is inspiring and we have the responsibility to recover fish for these species.
  • Rep ?? — as we look for solutions, let’s not hamper existing efforts; hope — we let data drive decisions and not come into process with pre-conceived notions
  • Louis Suquammish Tribe — contaminate your own bed and one day you suffocate… SSEC shows there are a lot of people care.
  • Lisa Wilson, Lummi — grew up fishing with her dad; work together on complex issue and break into bite-size issues
  • Lummi male — 87 hatcheries in WA; ~60% run by tribes; State makes 10% of general fund from salmon (e.g. hatchery fish bolstering recreational fishing), so restrict those funds for fish and orcas (e.g. fund more hatcheries)
  • Evan ?? — Model our efforts on what works: Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Voluntary Stewardship Program; Yakima integrated plan – fisheries biologists, ranchers, irrigator, farmers, council members ask what they can do together
  • San Juan Council member — hope: look at how we can change current policy to improve (e.g. charge dock builders for access to the covered/impacted State lands)
  • ?? — ripple effect: look for ways watersheds get healthier, forests too…
  • Lynne — bring together diverse perspectives to build on established partnerships to promote stewardhip; focus on actions that benefit whales and people
  • Ron Garner — hope: sustainable salmon runs (we fishers have seen this coming on for years)
  • Salmon recovery (lead entities, non-profits, tribes) — hope: leverage this army of folks and get them more money (we get about 20% of what we need to leverage these recovery plans); military fly-by for dad’s ashes in Rosario Strait and J pod showed up
  • Kelly Mclain (Dept of Agriculture) — build bridges from forests and watersheds to urban area
  • 2:05:23 Ken — we do provide recommendations to Governor and Federal govt to provide future generations; hard choices would be easier if true facts are on the table and this group seems ready to do that; Paraphrasing Mark Twain: It ain’t so much what you don’t know that causes problems; it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t true. Things we hold dear will be protected and hard to talk about (our utility rates; our dams), but we have to restore our wild fish as much as possible and the Columbia and Snake is where they were the most abundant in WA…
  • Ted Sturgent — hope: ramp up our collective commitment to get new policies over the finish line (beyond “we’re serious this time,” how do we find a common place where we can act for our grandchildren or whatever we live — our cultural identity, this place, the orca. Remind ourselves of what we love as we build smart and inclusive policies.
  • WDFW — we have responsibility for some of these problems, but we also have levers we can move (with tribes, in streams, with Canadians on the water); hope — bold vision like the ones around Yakima to put fish where they haven’t been in 70 years.
  • Teresa Mongillo, NOAA — strong actions in addition to what’s been accomplished so far
  • WA State Ferries — we gain the hutzpah to make the changes to tackle these issues; I need your help transforming WA State Ferries from systems that burn 1000Gal/hr in some of noisiest ships


Afternoon session (13:10-16:30)


Afternoon session video (1:15-4:30 pm):


Afternoon session video table-of-contents (time into 2nd video):

  • 10:00 Penny Becker (WDFW) — Overview of killer whale biology
    • 23:45 Questions from Task Force
  • 26:30 Steve Martin (Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office) — Prey availability overview
    • 35:30 We are under-funding salmon habitat restoration (only ~15% of the planned 500M/yr, State-wide)
    • 37:00 Questions (hatchery production declines; foreign fishery takes; Chinook size and timing trends, e.g. we’ve lost a lot of spring runs; forest health; growth management)
  • 44:15 Todd Haas (Special Projects, Puget Sound Partnership) — Vessel impacts
    • 53:00 Questions (re-visit Lacey et al. study; 50% of decibel level or time?; ship and ferry cooling systems (high suction and filtering may impact juvenile salmonids), and more studies of impacts from propellers at ferry terminals; Chat had question, but no time).
  • 57:25 Derek ?? (Dept of Ecology) [replaced J. Lundin?] — Contaminants
  • 1:03:45 Additional questions
    • Anti-fouling paint (recreational and off-shore)
  • 1:05:30 Nora: Working groups’ compositions were handed out and will be emailed
  • 1:06:50 Teresa Mongillo (NOAA) — Overview of SRKW Recovery Plan
    • 1:17:15 West side San Juan Island is focal point for conservation actions
    • 1:18:30 Coordination between SRKW and salmon recovery plans, both in US and Canada
    • 1:19:25 Future work: long-term strategies; NFWF Workshop; identifying priority salmon stocks
    • 1:20:26 Habitat slide says NOAA is “developing revision [to SRKW critical habitat] to include coastal waters”
    • 1:23:20 Questions (CA coordination; how can this group coordinate with NOAA; Chad Bowechop on matrix of ocean authorities; 5-year priority action document mentions risk assessment and food web results)
  • 1:29:10 Break (5-min) — next activity: what ideas/concerns should working group’s address for you
  • 1:30:05 Gather ideas, concerns, and questions for work groups: toxics, vessels, prey
    • 1:31:00 Toxics
    • 1:35:00 Suggestions straying from toxics to include prey and vessels
    • 1:41:45 “What is the cost [and benefit] of raising 1 dB…”
    • 1:42:35 Jeff Friedman — get slow speed zone guidance to other user groups; create communication system between whale watching fleet and commercial ships so they can slow down near SRKWs.
    • 1:47:40 Jacque White — short, medium, long-term actions
      • Need a consensus from scientists about which salmon stocks have biggest impact on SRKWs
      • We can increase hatchery production, but need to do it while protecting wild populations
      • Could adjust hatchery production to be optimal for SRKWs (e.g. longer marine stage)
    • 1:50:45 Assess Kinder Morgan risk
    • 1:57:00 Joy Gaydos — quantify recreational fishery and other so actions (if any) are defensible; focus on other fish and sea birds; connect to Canada, AK, OR, CA
    • 1:59:30 Re-iteration of need to understand herring and other forage fish; establish quantitative targets
    • 2:00:30 Balcomb — provide report early (Aug 1? Jun 1?); prioritize prey; how much do hatchery fish cost relative to wild fish that we bolster through habitat investments or dam removal
    • 2:04:00 Jacque re possible need to provide early, high-priority funding suggestions (e.g. hatchery?) to guide imminent State or Federal discussions?
    • 2:12:30 State budgets are set in September or October, typically…
    • 2:14:00 Connection between gas tax and city/county funding backlog for culvert replacements
    • 2:15:30 Fund proper forage fish monitoring
    • 2:16:15 Balcomb — Army Corp could put lower Snake River dams into a non-operational status and should be examined in terms of costs and benefits
  • 2:20:25 Overview/summary of comments (stickies on wall)
  • 1:26:00 Penny overview comments
    • regarding executive order timing and Governor’s budget and legislative timeline
    • watch Governor’s web site regarding immediate actions
  • 2:27:45 Public comments (from about 14 individuals, about a minute each)
    • 2:30 Jim Waddell — breach the lower snake dams ASAP
    • 2:32 Rich Osborne — SRKWs have culture, passing information between each other (horizontal transmission, younger generation decides to try something new) and between generations (traditions, vertical transmission), will send Whitehall paper…
    • 2:34:10 Jesse (Palouse Nation) — connection between dam removal and their traditional lands and promises made by Magnuson
    • 2:36:10 Derek (Greenpeace) — 79-87% chance of bitumen spill in our waters in next 50 years; stream crossing of the Puget Sound pipeline to Anacortes.
    • 2:37:45 Stephanie Buffum — 1998 many of us were starting to draft petition for ESA listing (20 years ago); it’s good to have the transboundary conversation that has trailed off over the last 10-15 years
    • Julia (NRDC) — Keep the Columbia Basin in mind when you think about restoration potential.
    • Ben (Oceana) — Orca-Salmon Alliance (14 groups) encourages you to move forward swiftly; take an ecosystem-based approach
    • 2:42~ Rein  (WEC) – caribou/orcas connection; vessel group should take into account oil spill
    • 2:45:45 Giles – Education/outreach group; salmon/fish quota for SRKWs
    • 2:47:05 Whitney – Follow the success of the Elwha
  • 2:49:30 Important upcoming dates…

Important upcoming dates:

  • Working group meetings
    • May : Toxics
    • May 24: Vessel impacts
    • May 29: Prey availability
  • Thur June 14: Next task force meeting, time TBD, same room as this first meeting
    • Chad proposed agenda item: build matrix of state, federal, tribal, canadian entities and roles/opportunities
    • Nora will summarize meeting, including finalization of the charter

2018 workflow for task force and working groups

Final thoughts from the Co-Chairs:

Les Purse
Key to success is improving how we communicate and work together: what the issues are, able to see connections, so we can frame recommendations in ways that are timely..
Stephanie Solien
We do need a communications effort…
How to counter the myth that we’ve taken on an impossible task?
We can do this!

Working group membership lists

As of 5/4/2018 these are the members of the SRKW Task Force working groups on prey, vessels, and toxins (based on this PDF, accessed 5/9/2018)

Prey Availability working group

Vessel working group

Contaminants working group

Minor editorial comments:

Here are a few notes I took while watching the broadcasts from Seattle, including a few editorial comments.

1) Both ships and boats have the potential to mask *both* SRKW calls and clicks

A slide from the presentation by Todd Hass about vessel effects.

Todd Haas did a great job of summarizing vessel impacts. In categorizing the main sources of noise, he emphasized a couple of times (at 44:36 and 47:17) that both “shipping” and “smaller craft” create underwater noise, and further stipulated (twice) “looking at ships, they tend to emit relatively lower frequencies that then interfere with communication” and “boats emit higher frequencies that tend to mask echolocation…”

I’d summarize the best available science a little differently. While JASCO’s assessments of ship and whale watch vessel source levels in 2017 (funded by ECHO) will hopefully add to our understanding of vessel noise in Haro Strait, I think existing gray and peer-reviewed literature already suggests that both ships and boats have source spectra with the potential to mask all types of SRKW signals (calls, whistles, and clicks) at close range (<10km) which are typical for SRKWs in the Salish Sea and over which seawater’s preferential absorption of high-frequency sound is not yet significant. Specifically, Hildebrand, 2008 shows that a single ship in Haro Strait has source spectrum levels that are largely bracketed by whale watch boat noise levels. While the absorption of high-frequency sound by seawater might lead you to think that distant ships might not have as much masking potential as nearby boats, Veirs et al. (2016) showed that high frequency noise emitted by ships in the Haro Strait northbound shipping lane raise ambient noise levels significantly (median ship noise levels are ~5 dB above median background levels) along the shoreline of San Juan Island where SRKW commonly forage in the summertime. Because ships dominate the noise budget in Haro Strait (20 ships/day on average), I think it would be more accurate to suggest that underwater noise from both ships and boats has the potential to mask all types of SRKW signals: calls, whistles, and echolocation clicks. We should also remember that we have only preliminary noise and prevalence data for recreational boats that are frequently moving at high speed near SRKWs, often through interactions with the better-studied commercial whale watching boats.

2) Perhaps someone should have mentioned the 4 H’s as a construct —

  • Habitat
  • Hatcheries
  • Harvest
  • Hydropower
and then, during discussion of  long-term Chinook dynamics (lack of recovery?) and pinniped management, added:
  • Heat (ocean conditions, global warming, possibly affecting sea lion predation dynamics)
  • Herring! (And connection to marine survival of salmon smolts within context of harbor seal recovery in Puget Sound, which thankfully was addressed by multiple Task Force members in the issues for Working Groups to consider.)

We should all consider these *6* H’s as we work towards orca-salmon recovery! (Even though the 3 working groups may not consider all of them…)

 Fun screen grabs:  


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Governor Inslee signs Executive Order 18-02: southern resident killer whale recovery and task force

Today (3/14/18) in Seattle, Governor Jay Inslee signed Executive Order 18:02, setting the stage for Washington State agencies to implement immediate actions to benefit the southern resident killer whales, (aka SRKWs) — an endangered population of salmon-eating orcas. The order also creates a SRKW Task Force which will guide “implementation of a longer-term action plan.”

A highlight moment (for me at least) came as Inslee approached the table to sign the order. He suddenly stopped short and went into a crouch, looking through the glass front doors of the Daybreak Star Cultural Center from our vantage point high up in Discovery Park and squinting as if he’d just noticed something on the northern horizon where the tourmaline waters of Puget Sound sparkled. Then he said this:

“Oh my gosh! It’s J pod, right out there!!” Then he sat down chuckling, signed the order, and then turned to his backers to say “Get to work!”

Prior to the signing, the governor spoke about his inspiration — hearing killer whale blows in the fog as a boy — and other regional leaders expressed their support for the order. In addition to a Native song from two brothers which echoed majestically through the Daybreak Star Center, speakers included Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe — Leonard Forsman, Vice-Chair of the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) Leadership Council — Stephanie Solien, and retired President of Evergreen State College — Lee Purce. The latter two, Solien and Purce will co-Chair the new Task Force. See below for video/audio recordings.

“We know there are multiple threats to the orca, not just one…. None of these threats can be taken lightly. The stakes are too high to wait any longer.  And all of them need to be addressed. There is no one panacea for the orcas. Everyone in the State of Washington has some role to play in this…. The orca will not survive unless all of us in the State of WA somehow makes a commitment to their survival.”

Video/audio recordings of the speakers

Opening song by Jewel and Doug James

The signing ceremony was opened with a prayer sung by renowned totem pole carver Jewel James, joined by his brother Doug James, both of the Lummi Tribe. Governor Inslee thanked them for “helping us move forward in the spirit of Bernie Whitebear.”

Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe

Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands

Stephanie Solien, Co-chair of the Task Force

Introduction of her speech (switched from video to audio due to storage constraints…):

Latter portion of Solien’s speech:

Lee Purce, Co-chair of the Task Force

Co-chairs of the new SRKW Task Force.

Immediate actions in a nutshell

“Immediate actions” means during 2018, with some implemented as soon as the end of next month (April).  You can read the full details in the PDF of the Executive Order, but in a nutshell they are:

  • By April 30:
    • more enforcement of vessel and fishing regs in orca areas (WDFW and WA State Parks and Rec. Comm.)
    • curriculum to train whale watch vessels to assist during oil spills (Dept. of Ecology)
    • adjust 2018 recreational and commercial fishing regs to get SRKW more prey (WDFW)
    • reduce PCBs in food used by state salmon hatcheries
  • By May 31: develop strategies for quieting ferries in SRKW areas (WSDOT)
  • By July 1: prioritize existing outreach resources & develop pubic ed program (PSP, WDFW, GSRO, SWPRC, DOL)
  • By July 31:
    • identify marine areas and watersheds where actions could get more prey to SRKWs (WDFW with Governor’s Salmon Recover Office [GSRO] and PSP)
    • prioritize SRKW benefits in ranking 2019-2021 storm water projects (Dept. of Ecology)
  • By December 15: consider benefits to SRKWs in assessing Chinook recovery projects (PSP, WDFW, GSRO)

A WSF pauses to let passengers observe an endangered southern resident killer whale.

Synopsis of the Task Force

The main goal of the Task Force will be to formulate a longer-term action plan that addresses major threats to the SRKWs. With a broad membership and in collaboration with many other plans and entities (in the U.S. and Canada), the group will first report to the Governor by November 1, 2018.

Concluding thoughts

This is all very welcome news from the State of Washington for the orcas whose population is at a 20 year low, especially in an era when U.S. Federal funding for SRKW recovery (research and outreach) has run dry and shows no prospect of renewal. Last month the Trump administration proposed to reduce NOAA’s 2019 budget by 20%, or about $200M. Ironically, in his speech (at 6:19) Inslee mentions the same sum — $200 million — as the amount that the State “is investing this biennium in capital funding for salmon recovery and habitat restoration projects.”

This most-progressive corner of the U.S. may yet save its regional icons, ideally in partnership with the progressive leaders in Canada fueled by their Federal Ocean Protection Plan, but it will likely also take some luck and the proper spirit — keeping in mind our oneness with each other and the orcas, as well as the the long-term prospects for the Salish Sea Ecosystem.



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Washington Maritime Blue launch: Inslee mentions killer whales and noise

On Tuesday December 12, 2017, the Washington Maritime Blue initiative was launched at Bell Harbor conference center in Seattle. Overlooking Elliott Bay on a crisp winter day, the State unveiled the new 21-member Maritime Innovation Advisory Council. In a nutshell this appears to be an effort by local experts to generate a strategic plan for Washington to have the most sustainable maritime industry in the U.S. by 2050. The time line calls for a strategic report to the Governor within 18 months using a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce (U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies) and a local match.

Gov. Inslee launches WA Maritime Blue

Stand-out moments for me were:

  • noting immediately how the council is dominated by white people, primarily old men, with no environmental representation relevant to whales/salmon except the Puget Sound Partnership and Port Commissioner Fred Felleman;
  • seeing 4 staff from the facilitating consulting firm DNV which is based in Norway (how much of the $1M are they getting?), in contrast to 1 staff from WA;
  • hearing about a $40M renovation of Fisherman’s Terminal by the Port of Seattle that may include a “Washington Maritime Innovation Center” that will serve as a Cluster Organization, Incubator and Commercialization Test Lab for Washington’s growing Blue Tech cluster, in partnership with APL
  • agreeing with Inslee that blue-collar jobs should be accessible via apprenticeships and other smart alternatives to a 4-year degree
  • experiencing one of the co-chairs (Frank Foti) ask everyone to spend 60 seconds envisioning the physical beauty of the Salish Sea.

This post presents audio recordings of most of the presentations — from the Governor’s remarks, through a string of speakers beginning with sole staff-member Joshua Berger (Governor’s Maritime Sector Lead), to a facilitated questioning of many of the council members — as well as a selection of images from the room and slide decks.

Governor Inslee’s remarks

Excerpts relevant to southern resident killer whales and salmon:

  • Inslee’s grandfather fished in the San Juans; his son’s have participated in commercial fisheries.
  • Through this “strategic initiative to develop the world’s most-sustainable, long-term, and innovative marine industry for the next century” … “we are going to ensure that our State is positioned to thrive in the increasingly competitive international marketplace for maritime services while at the same time working proactively to deal with some of our most pressing local and global environmental and community challenges.”
  • 3:44 “We seek to accomplish an important, timely approach to solving issues of air quality, underwater noise, and storm water mitigation.”
  • 3:54 “We know that our natural heritage depends on our success in these efforts. And we know that we have some visible signs of that with the threats now to our southern resident orca population and salmon population.”
  • 15:41 “We’re going to guarantee that the 7th generation not only has clean waters but to be able to have a family history in the maritime industry like my family has had. And when we do that together, that’s going to be a good day.”

    Strategic plan timeline.

Other speakers

Excerpts from presentation by Amy Scarton of Washington State Ferries relevant to underwater noise:

  •  2:00 In 2012 WA State Ferries did a study of conversion to a hybrid propulsion system, but most electric vessels/technologies weren’t available until 2013-15.
  • 2:35 We’re returning to hybrid considerations, but the big opportunity (highest short-term ROI) will be the Jumbo-Mark II class diesel-electric vessels that are 20 years old (Tacoma, Wenatchee, Puyallup on Seattle-Bainbridge and Edmonds-Kingston). “Now is the time for us as an agency to come in and do some life-time replacements of those propulsion systems.”
  • 3:20 “Of the 22 active vessels we have in our fleet, these 3 burn 26% of our diesel fuel.”
  • 4:20 “We did a high-level feasibility study this summer [2017]. That showed us that this is worth pursuing.”
  • Three studies will be finished at the end of the year
  • In 2018 work with Governor and Legislature to get preliminary design
  • RFP in 2019; engineering in 2020; retrofit in 2021.
  • We could have a pilot project in just a few years
  • Jan 4 christening of new vessel…

Co-chairs, Fred Felleman, and facilitated questions of the counselors



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The past and future of hydrophone networks

Listening for whales

A discussion of hydrophone networks — past and future — with an emphasis on the Salish Sea (Washington State, USA; and British Columbia, Canada)

Talk and discussion hosted by the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Cetacean Society (Facebook event)

January 18, 2017 at the Phinney Ridge Community Center in Seattle

The spread of the Internet, computing infrastructure, and “ocean observatories” are enabling a new human connection with the oceans and the whales within them.  I will briefly review extant hydrophone networks, best practices, and exciting new technologies, and then lead a discussion about the future of the “Salish Sea Hydrophone Network” (SSHP, ) and other hydrophones in the Northeast Pacific.

If you would like to help improve the hydrophone network, please

A history of listening to the “Puget Soundscape” (& vicinity)

Discuss: Know of any others, better dates, or old recordings?

Here’s a rough chronology of listening efforts in the Salish Sea, or at least Puget Sound.  Let us know in the comments if you know of others or spy an error!

  • 1950s
    • Navy recordings of SRKWs (mentioned by Candi during talk)
  • 1960s
    • Some recordings made during the capture of killer whales in/near Puget Sound (e.g. by Rich Osborne)
  • 1970s
    • Single hydrophones at Lime Kiln
      • Whale Museum’s “Seasound Remote Sensing Network”
      • Archived at The Whale Museum
    • Deployments intermittently by Center for Whale Research (CWR)
    • Multiple hydrophones at Orca Lab (Paul Spong and Helena Symonds in Johnstone Strait, BC)
      • Began a decades-long, nearly continuous sound monitoring effort
      • Started one of most-developed, long-lasting listening communities
    • 1978?: Robin Baird and Pam Stacey deploy hydrophone at Race Rocks
  • 1980-90s
  • 2000s
    • 2000: Joe Olson records Kingdome demolition
    • 2001: Val Veirs deploys array with college students (between CWR & Roche Harbor)
    • 2005: Navy records transients in Dabob Bay
    • 2005-2012: Salish Sea Hydrophone Project expands to 5 nodes from Lime Kiln (Scott and Val Veirs with funding & support from: Jason Wood of TWM; NOAA; WDFW; Cornell Bioacoustics course)
    • 2013: Orca Lab and University of Victoria launch the Orchive
    • Field studies of SRKW bioacoustics, some boat-based (Foote, Griffin, Bain, Wieland, Miller, Au, …), including the Beam Reach data archive
    • Feild studies of ship noise (Hildebrand, Bassett)
    • Marla Holt deploys acoustic DTAGs on SRKWs
    • Ocean Networks Canada’s VENUS
    • Gulf Island deployments:
      • Sherringham Point and South Pender (Cotrell, Ford, Yurk)
      • Eastpoint, Saturna Island (SIMRES, Larry Peck)
      • Active Pass?
    • PAM via autonomous recorders (mostly outer coast, but some within Salish Sea, e.g. Rob Williams)
    • 2012-2016: Beam Reach maintains SSHP
    • 2015-16: Port of Vancouver studies (SMRU, Jasco) and ECHO program
  • Other (not sure of deployment period)
    • Orca FM (Vancouver Aquarium’s [previously] live and archived sounds from Johnstone Strait) [was hosted by and]

Accomplishments & assets of the Salish Sea Hydrophone Network

Discuss: What have been highlights for you?

Notable deployments beyond the Salish Sea

Discuss: If you’d tried any of these, what worked well, or didn’t?

Know of other links or streams?  Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them!

Precedent-setting citizen-science (& other technologies?)

Discuss: If you’d tried any of these, what worked well, or didn’t?

Tell us in the comments about your favorite citizen-science experiences, especially if they have to do with whales and/or acoustics!

  • Whale.FM – Organized orca and pilot whale calls
  • Zooniverse – Many projects, but only a few related to marine species or bioacoustics
  • Orchive

What is your vision for future hydrophone networks?

Discuss: What more could be done (for you!) by hydrophone networks (and collaborators)?

If you would like to help improve the hydrophone network, please

  • Low-cost, low-maintenance nodes (two cost levels for listening vs research)
  • Low bandwidth nodes: stream compression and local generation of data products
  • High bandwidth nodes: raw stream, web-based control, and no local analysis
  • 10-day data buffer
  • High-performance supercomputing analysis in the cloud
  • Advanced citizen/scientist social network
    • public access to basic resources and functionality, plus conservation calls-to-action?
    • clear identity upon registration
    • tutorials
    • responsibilities and benefits that increase based on contributions and reputation
      • geographic notification
      • unmoderated detections
      • participation in advanced training and research
      • editorial, teaching, and quality control roles
  • Mobile deployments (stream or calibrated) via an app?
  • SRKW location data for research responses?
  • Ship noise monitoring?
  • Integration in oil spill prevention and response?



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Ken Balcomb calls for breaching the 4 lower Snake river dams immediately

Ken Balcomb the biologist is sick of watching the iconic orcas of the Northwest die, especially mothers and their calves.  On Friday (10/28/2016) he became Ken Balcomb the activist, asking us all (the public!) to participate in saving the salmon-eating killer whales he has studied for almost 50 years.


Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research leads a press conference.


Call to action:


In an unprecedented move, his organization the Center for Whale Research held a press conference today in Seattle.  Sadly, the purpose was to announce their conclusion that J-28 (aka Polaris) has gone missing and is now declared dead — a tragic loss of a breeding female (in a population that has declined to 80 individuals this summer) which probably also dooms her youngest calf, J-54 (aka Clipper), who was born in late 2015.  J-54 was part of the “baby boom” of 9 orcas that was heralded as good news in 2015 for the population which is failing to grow at the rate NOAA has specified in the recovery plan for the species.

Declaring that he doesn’t like reading the “obituaries” of killer whale mothers and their children, and citing a pre- and post-natal mortality rate of more than 75%, Ken and the other speakers today reiterated the clear need for bolstering the supply of southern resident killer whales’ their favorite food, Chinook salmon.  He explained that the failure of fetal and newborn orcas to survive is derived from examination of ovary morphology (which can indicate ovulations, as well as failed and successful pregnancies) in deceased whales and attributed to insufficient food supplies for the mother before and during pregnancy, as well as during lactation.

Their call to action was specific — the removal of the lower 4 dams on the Snake river.  Ken contextualized this with a request that we recover wild salmon populations throughout the range of the southern residents — from California to SE Alaska.  He was joined by Jim Waddel, retired Army Corp of Engineers, who posited that the Corp could begin breaching the earthen portion of the dams as soon as this December (!) — in part because a long history of studies and judge opinions have made it clear that dam removal is the only remaining option that is viable — both economically and ecologically.

Background information and more ways to help save the salmon and the orcas:

Save Our Wild Salmon


American Rivers

Sharon Grace makes the case for dam breaching on the lower Snake river

Retired Army Corp Engineer Jim Waddel presents the case:



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The acoustics of Reinhall piles

This week PBS News Hour broadcast a segment about underwater noise, and local efforts in the Pacific Northwest to mitigate the noise from pile driving.  Driven by the release this month of NOAA’s Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap, the 7.5-minute segment did a decent job of introducing key ocean noise sources (sonar, seismic, vessels).  Marla Holt (NOAA/NWFSC) was interviewed and mentioned amplitude compensation of killer whales in boat noise, though the program juxtaposed ships in such a way that the public might be mislead into thinking our +1dB/dB observed compensation in the S1 call amplitude in the presence of boat noise would also be observed in the presence of ship noise.

The last part of the interviewer’s efforts went to understanding an emerging mitigation technology: Reinhall piles.  She got Per Reinhall, head of the University of Washington Mechanical Engineering Department, to describe a technology he and his grad student helped develop that is being commercialized by a Seattle-based start-up: Marine Construction Technologies.

The company’s web-site has some enlightening diagrams that complement Per’s on-screen description which he helpfully facilitated with a black hand-held model.  Basically, a Reinhall pile is a standard hollow pile that is driven into the seafloor via a mandrel, or central pile of smaller diameter.  The mandrel is fitted with a proprietary shoe and transmits the pressure pulse from the driver via a “very, very stiff spring” into the base of the (outer) pile.  Once in place, the mandrel is removed and can be re-used to drive the next pile.

This innovation reduces sound propagation from the pile to the surrounding seawater by creating an air-filled void between the driven mandrel and the outer pile.  Since air is compressible (unlike seawater), much less of the energy from the driver’s strike propagates to the seawater because it must travel through the air-filled void as well as the (outer) pile wall.  This use of air to absorb some of the pressure pulse from the strike takes advantage of the same physics as bubble curtains — cylindrical clouds of bubbles that rise from rings placed around a pile while it is being driven.

The “secret sauce” of the invention, however says Per, is the shoe at the base of the mandrel.  It transmits the pressure pulse from the mandrel to the outer pile in a way that reduces the energy transmitted into the seabed.  The videos on the company web site provide a few hints into how it works.

At 10:07 this (silent, time-lapse) video of in-situ tests done in collaboration with the Port of Tacoma and sponsored by the Washington Department of Transportation shows a glimpse of the shoe as the mandrel is removed from the driven pile.

Full-scale mandrel being removed from a driven pile. Note the shoe at the base of the mandrel.

Full-scale mandrel being removed from a driven pile. Note the shoe at the base of the mandrel.

In this video at 2:37, grad student Tim Dardis provides another perspective on the lower end of the mandrel and the shoe as he creates a sub-scale model.

Inserting a sub-scale pile into the lathe. Not sure if this is an outer pile, or an inner pile that is welded to the shoe to create the mandrel. Based on the diameter, I'm guessing inner.

Inserting a sub-scale pile into the lathe. Not sure if this is an outer pile, or an inner pile that is welded to the shoe to create the mandrel. Based on the diameter, I’m guessing inner.


The sub-scale shoe being turned on the lathe. It looks like they are creating a conical surface that will parallel the conical tip of a standard pile.

The sub-scale shoe being turned on the lathe. It looks like they are creating a conical surface that will parallel the conical tip of a standard pile.

The mystery in the exciting story is “where’s the spring?”  Per says it is a “flexible coupling” at the bottom of the mandel.  In the lathe video, Tim mentions that the shoe is welded on to the inner pile.  The PBS footage includes short clips of a couple piles on the (Tacoma testing?) dock, as well as a prototype that represents the best public estimate of how the coupling, or shoe, is engineered.

Full-scale piles on the dock.

Full-scale piles on the dock. Is the left one the inner pile (mandrel) and the right a standard pile?


Base of a prototype of the Reinhall pile.

Base of a prototype of the Reinhall pile.  Where’s the spring?


Top of a prototype of the Reinhall pile.

Top of a prototype of the Reinhall pile.

It’s not clear to me where the spring is in this invention.  But the physics of springs does suggest that the basic idea is a good one (at least for nearby fish, but maybe not for actually overcoming the resistance of seafloor sediments to an inserted vertical pipe).

When a rod-spring system is hit on the top of the rod by an instantaneous force, what happens?  The impact on the end of the rod generates a compression wave that propagates down the rod and eventually compresses the spring a distance which is proportional to a spring constant.  Along the way, energy is transmitted to the adjacent air and through the spring to the sediment.

The dynamics of compressing the spring seem likely to reduce the peak-to-peak amplitude of the compression wave (and pursuant Mach waves in the water and sediment), but isn’t that maximum compression also important in driving the piling through the sediments (which are resisting the driving through friction)?  Perhaps the acoustic reductions outweigh any loss of efficiency in the driving process?  One should be careful to not increase sound exposure levels inadvertently — by reducing the noise level but increasing the number of strikes required to drive the pile to the desired depth…

So, how exactly is it put together?  The patent for “Pile to minimize noise transmission and method of pile driving” provide some answers.  First, it suggests that there may be some compliant material used between the inner and outer piles to keep them aligned — at least near the top, and possibly throughout the air-filled void (especially if there are leaks and it fills with water!).

Overview diagram from the schematic. 116 is a compliant material.

Overview diagram from the schematic. Compliant material (116) helps pile alignment at the top. The driving shoe (106) at the bottom has: an outer diameter equal to or greater than the outer pile’s outer diameter; and, a central aperture (114) to admit sediment with a diameter slightly below the inner diameter of the inner pile.

That all makes sense, but where is the “very, very stiff spring” that’s modifying this massive compression of the inner pile as it reaches the “flexible coupling” at the bottom?  I thought for sure Fig. 5 of the patent would include a spring…

Patent diagram of the inner and outer pile and shoe. Note the flange which connects the inner and outer pile. It pulls the outer pile down behind the shoe as the inner pile is driven.

Patent diagram of the inner and outer pile and shoe. Note the flange which connects the inner and outer pile. It pulls the outer pile down behind the shoe as the inner pile is driven.  I thought 258 would be springs, but no — the patent says “One or two low-friction members 258 (two shown), for example nylon washers, may optionally be provided.”

Still no springs!  And now the outer pile is welded up so as to “capture” the inner pile.  I thought the inner pile was going to be re-usable, but now its flange is stuck inside the recess of the outer pile!  We have, however, got some interesting gaps (260 and 262) separating the inner and outer piles…  Are we trying to keep water from leaking in?

Maybe, but I don’t get why it’s better acoustically to pull the outer pile down via a flange rather than the aforementioned shoe.  Maybe the compressional wave transmits less energy to the sediment if it is partially reflected by the flange/recess interface?!  To me it doesn’t seem worth losing the re-use of the mandrel.

Finally, in the last schematic of the patent (Fig. 6, below) co-inventors Per and Peter (Dahl) of the Applied Physics Lab mention an “elastic connector 285 connecting the inner tube and outer tube” — possibly a spring!  They suggest it may be “an annular linear elastic spring member with an inner edge fixed to the inner tube 284, and an outer edge fixed to the outer tube 282.”


Additional patent detail...

At last a spring!  285 is an “annular linear elastic spring member.”

Of course this drawing is a little confusing.  How are you going to get the inner pile out?  It seems this also is a non-reusable mandrel “embodiment” of the design.  And what is 288?  Mysteriously, it’s not defined in the patent!

No matter how exactly it works mechanically, the invention is effective acoustically.  Overall, the underwater noise is reduced about 20 dB lower (peak-to-peak, or RMS) with the Reinhall pile compared to received levels from a standard pile.  Per explains in the PBS piece that this is equivalent to a 90% reduction in volume (pressure amplitude).  A 20 dB reduction also means the noise is 100 times less intense.

Accolades to the UW and Marine Construction Technology for providing the public with a nice audio clip allowing comparison of the received sound from the control and the Reinhall pile.  Have a listen!

I’m left wondering who reviews and approves these pretty nebulous patents.  It seems the design challenge is to optimize acoustic mitigation with efficient installation of the pile — and ideally a pretty standard pile (to save costs and installation steps).

The real innovation of Per and Peter is that they found a way to extend that cylinder of sound-absorbing air down into the sea — not only to the seafloor to block propagation directly in the water (per their ASA talk “Attenuation of pile driving noise using a double walled sound shield”), but also within the seafloor, thereby reducing transmission from the walls of the inner pile to the sediment.  Some of their thought process is captured in this article.

To leverage their good idea within the design constraints I assume, here’s my suggested embodiment:


It actually has a big, stiff spring! And:

  1. minimizes the preparation of the outer pile — just weld to the inner wall of a standard hollow pile a single annular shoe (solid purple) with bevel to guide placement of the inner pile on a driving surface
  2. seals the connection between the inner and outer pile (to ensure water does not displace the air) with an elastomeric material (red) that has a beveled lower edge that weds to the shoe’s bevel.
  3.  welds a spring (green) to the base of the inner pile which rests on the driving surface of the outer pile
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U.S. Navy starts 2016 by pinging in the pool

With transient killer whales in the area and the whereabouts of J and L pods (and their many newborns!) unknown, we were concerned to hear that active sonar was utilized late in the morning on Wednesday, January 13, in Haro Strait — critical habitat for species in both Canada and the U.S.  At the same time, military training activities were planned or taking place on both sides of the border.  This is what it sounded like underwater along the western shoreline of San Juan Island —

Complex sonar sequence recorded in Haro Strait on 1/13/2016.

Complex sonar sequence recorded in Haro Strait on 1/13/2016 via the Orcasound hydrophone (~5km north of Lime Kiln State Park).

When the sonar was heard and recorded by members of the Salish Sea Hydrophone Network the Canadian Naval vessel HMCS Ottawa was observed (via AIS) transiting Haro Strait in U.S. waters about 10-20 km north of the hydrophones.

This juxtaposition led us to initially assert that the Ottawa — a Halifax class frigate which carries active sonar — was the source of the sonar pings, reinforced by the activation of the test range (area Whiskey Golf off Nanaimo) on 1/12 and 1/14.  However, a proactive call to Beam Reach on 1/14/16 from Danielle Smith, Environmental Officer for Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, suggested that the Ottawa was not the source.  Specifically, she stated that active sonar use was not in their plan when they last departed.  She also said she spoke directly with the Ottawa’s Commanding Officer who confirmed with the crew that the transducers were not lowered, and that therefore there was no way their SQS-510 (medium frequency search sonar system) could have transmitted (e.g.  sometimes calibrations underway go unreported).  Finally, she communicated that their senior sonar techs were confident that the recorded frequencies were not consistent with the Ottawa’s 510 system.  When asked, she confirmed that the sonar system had not been upgraded since it was last recorded during the 2012 vent in which the Ottawa disturbed and possibly damaged the endangered Southern Resident Killer whales.

Other sources of information also suggest that the U.S. Navy may have been the source of the sonar pings.

First and foremost, the sonar pings are distinct from the active mid-frequency SQS-510 sonar used by the Ottawa in February, 2012.  Instead, they sound similar to, but are more complex than the SQS-53C pings emitted by the U.S. destroyer Shoup on May 5, 2003.  [They were also coincident with many individual broadband pings spaced about 6.6 seconds apart.  Were these made by the vessel with the active sonar, or a different one?]

Furthermore, comparison of the times of the recorded sonar pings and available AIS tracks suggests that the sonar was recorded when the Ottawa was located between the north Henry Island and Turn Point at the northwest tip of Stuart Island.  If the source was the Ottawa, why would it have utilized sonar only while within U.S. waters (about 1-2 km east of the International Boundary).  During this period, the Ottawa was about 8-16 km north of the recording hydrophones.  Pending computation of the calibrated received levels, the qualitative intensity of the received pings suggests that the source was closer than the Ottawa’s AIS positions allow.

Smith’s statements and these observations raise a key question:  were U.S. vessels in the area emitting these sounds that are similar to those emitted by the US destroyer Shoup in 2003?

This possibility is alarming because the U.S. Navy has refrained from training with active sonar within the Salish Sea since the Shoup sonar incident of 2003 (which disturbed endangered Southern Residents, as well as a minke whale and harbor porpoises).  (The U.S. Navy has tested sonar since the Shoup incident: during the San Francisco submarine event of 2009 and the Everett dockside event in 2012.) Also, the U.S. Navy more recently has agreed to minimize the impacts of its mid-frequency sonar.

Portending a worrisome trend, at the start of 2016 news surfaced that the U.S. Navy planned operations in the Pacific Northwest that might include “mini-subs” and beach landings beginning in mid-January, 2016.  No recent AIS tracks of US military vessels have been archived by, suggesting that the Navy vessels’ AIS transceivers may have been turned off based on their mission.

Visual observations demonstrate that U.S. Naval ships were active on 1/13/20016.  At least one U.S. Naval ship, possibly a frigate, was seen departing Everett around mid-day by Orca Network.  Slightly earlier, between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m Howard Garrett of Orca Network saw two Navy ships transiting northward up Admiralty Inlet about 15 min. apart. The first one looked like the Shoup, complete with the cannon on the bow; the second looked more like a supply ship.

(1/17/16 update: A citizen scientist observed two Naval ships southbound in Haro Strait between Turn Point and D’Arcy Island at around 10:45 a.m. — roughly coincident with the sonar heard on the nearby Orcasound hydrophone.  1/19/16: Navy Region Northwest has confirmed a U.S. Naval ship was “in the area…”)

Update 1/22/16: Navy Region Northwest Deputy, Public Affairs, Sheila Murray stated in an email to Beam Reach,

“A U.S. Navy DDG was transiting within the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the U.S. side of the waterway (not in or near the Haro Strait). The DDG confirmed sonar use consistent with recordings on the Beam Reach Facebook page for a brief period of time, approximately 10 min. There were trained lookouts stationed during this event. No marine mammals were sighted during the activity and no marine mammal vocalizations were detected by passive acoustic monitoring. The ship was briefly operating its sonar system for a readiness evaluation in order for the ship to deploy in the near future.”

It is not clear whether the DDG (Guided Missile Destroyer) was one of the Everett-based ships — the Shoup or Momsen — or if it was based elsewhere (e.g. one of the 15 destroyers stationed in San Diego).  [Update 1/25/2016: Navy Region Northwest has, however, re-directed a question from Beam Reach regarding the procedures followed by the ship to the Third Fleet (based in San Diego) suggesting that the DDG may have been based in California.]

Update 2/4/16: Lt. Julianne Holland, Deputy Public Affairs Officer Commander, U.S. Third Fleet responded to a question posed by Beam Reach,

Below is the response to your question: Did the DDG obtain permission from the Commander of the Pacific Fleet in advance of this use of MFAS in Greater Puget Sound?

The Navy did not anticipate this use within the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The use of sonar was required for a deployment exercise that was not able to be conducted outside of the Strait due to sea state conditions. The Navy vessel followed the process to check on the requirements for this type of use in this location, but a technical error occurred which resulted in the unit not being made aware of the requirement to request permission. The exercise was very brief in duration, lasting less than 10 minutes, and the Navy has taken steps to correct the procedures to ensure this doesn’t occur again at this, or any other, location. The Navy also reviewed historical records to confirm this event has not occurred before and was a one-time occurrence within the Puget Sound/Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Navy reported the incident to NMFS and NMFS determined that no modifications to the Navy’s authorization are needed at this time.

Below is a chronology of events, wildlife sightings, and acoustic analysis that we hope will help document the event, including the source of the sonar and any impacts on marine life of the Salish Sea.

Key events (local time, PST):

Tue 1/12/16 14:30 PST: Ottawa in search pattern all afternoon and night (1-7 knots, east of Constance Bank)

Wed 1/13/16 09:00 PST: Ottawa moves north into Haro Strait

Wed 1/13/16 10:00 PST: Ottawa enters U.S. waters between False Bay and Discovery Island, proceeds north

Wed 1/13/16 10:45 PST: Intense sonar pings recorded on the Orcasound hydrophone (originating from a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Juan de Fuca)

Wed 1/13/16 11:00 PST: Ottawa leaves U.S. waters near Turn Point, Stuart Island

Detailed Chronology (public Google spreadsheet):

Acoustic recordings and analysis

8 minute recordings from Lime Kiln and Orcasound

Jeanne Hyde provided 2 recordings — each about 8 minutes long — of a sequence of sonar pings. The first is from the Lime Kiln lighthouse hydrophone (but we believe there is some drift in the time base, so this recording should not be used to assess event timing, like sonar initiation, duration, or ping intervals) —

Lime Kiln 8-minute recording (10:41)

Spectrogram of 8-minute recording from the Lime Kiln hydrophone.

Spectrogram of 8-minute recording from the Lime Kiln hydrophone.


— the second is from the Orcasound hydrophone (about 5 km north of Lime Kiln) —

Orcasound 8-minute recording (10:55)

Spectrogram of 8-minute recording from the Orcasound hydrophone.

Spectrogram of 8-minute recording from the Orcasound hydrophone.

Assuming that drift in the Lime Kiln recording has corrupted its time base, we use the Orcasound to establish timing of the event.  Overall, the event consists of a pattern of broadband pulses and ~30-second sequences of  frequency modulated (FM) slide and narrowband continuous wave (CW) pulses.  The ~9-minute pattern was: two simple, ascending FM+CW sequences, 52 broadband pulses (2.5-3.0 kHz) about 6.7 seconds apart, and then 5 more FM+CW sequences. 

The initial and final FM+CW sequences were distinct.  The first two were relatively simple and consisted of: a 2.5-2.6 kHz rise for ~0.5 seconds, 2.75 kHz tone for ~1 second, another 0.5 second rise from 2.85-2.95 kHz, and finally a 3.1 kHz tone for ~1 second.  The more complicated sequence that is repeated 5 times at the end of the sonar event (around 11:00-11:03 a.m.) is described below (in the section that makes a comparison with SQS-53C sonar sequences emitted by the Shoup in 2003).

The broadband pulse echoes were audible and were received on average 3.4 seconds after the direct path pulse.  This time delay indicates a mean extra distance traveled of about 5 kilometers, though there was a clear trend from about 5.7 to 4.4 km over the course of the 52 pings.

Further quantitative analysis of the acoustic data is included in the 13 Jan 2016 sonar chronology Google spreadsheet.  The larger data files are archived and shorter clips and associated spectrograms are embedded below.

Sonar sequence repeated 5 times around 11:00

Below is a 2-minute recording of the Orcasound hydrophone (by another hydrophone network citizen scientist) at 11 a.m. on 1/13/16 containing 4 sonar ping sequences.  Each sequence lasts 30 seconds and contains a series of complex rising tones followed by single 3.75 kHz tones at about 9 and 22 seconds into the sequence.

Spectrogram of a sonar sequence that repeated 4 times around 11 a.m.

Spectrogram of the final 4 repetitions of the more complex sonar sequence.

Spectrogram of a ping recorded from the Orcasound hydrophone when the Ottawa was in Haro Strait

Spectrogram showing the detailed pattern of sounds during one of the more complex sonar sequences.

Individual sonar ping at 10:55

Recorded and provided by Jeanne Hyde, this ascending sonar sequence is relatively simple —

Spectrogram of a single ping on the Orcasound hydrophone at 10:55 a.m.

Spectrogram of a single ping on the Orcasound hydrophone at 10:55 a.m.

Individual sonar ping at 11:00 (1:14 into ~2hr 26 min recording)

In comparison, this recording (provided by Jeanne Hyde) captures one of the more complex sonar sequences —

Spectrogram of 0.5 second sonar pings at 3.25, 6.5, and 9.75 kHz recorded on the Orcasound hydrophone.

Spectrogram of 0.5 second sonar pings at 3.25, 6.5, and 9.75 kHz recorded on the Orcasound hydrophone.

Comparison with SQS-53C sonar pings from 2003 Shoup event

This historic recording from 2003 is similar (relatively abbreviated) to the single ping at 10:55 —

Spectrogram of a single ping from the SQS-53C sonar during the 2003 Shoup incident.

Spectrogram of a single ping from the SQS-53C sonar during the 2003 Shoup incident.

In comparison, here’s one of the more complex sonar sequences observed on 1/13/16 —

Complex sonar sequence recorded in Haro Strait on 1/13/2016.

Complex sonar sequence recorded in Haro Strait on 1/13/2016.

Overall, the ~10-second sequence has fundamentals and pure tones are between 2.5-3.75 kHz.  This makes it distinct (lower frequencies) from the 6-8 kHz tones of Canadian SQS-510 system.

The initial 0.5-second tone has fundamental at 3.20 kHz rising to 3.35 kHz, with intense harmonics at 6.43-6.60 and 9.60-9.90 kHz.   This is followed by a 1.0-second pure tone at 3.45 kHz.

A second 0.5-second tone rises from 2.50-2.63 kHz, with a weak first harmonic at 5.0-5.2 kHz and a moderately intense second harmonic at 7.5-7.8 kHz.  This is followed by a 1.0-second pure tone at 2.73 kHz.

There’s a third pair of rising and pure tones at intermediate frequencies, followed by a pause for reverberations/listening, and then a repeat (at lower source level?) of the second and initial phrases.  Finally, there is an ending 0.5-second pure tone at 3.75 kHz.

Ship tracks and descriptions

The Canadian frigate Ottawa was observed in Haro Strait at the time of the sonar pings.  If the time of the recordings and AIS locations are accurate, then the Ottawa was approximately 8-16 km north of Lime Kiln and Orcasound when the sonar sounds were recorded at those hydrophone locations.

AIS track of the Ottawa on 1/11 to 1/12.

AIS track of the Ottawa on 1/11 to 1/12.

AIS track of the Ottawa on 1/13.

AIS track of the Ottawa on 1/13.

AIS track of the Ottawa on 1/14.

AIS track of the Ottawa on 1/14.

Ottawa track map 1

Alternative Ottawa track map

The Canadian Orca class patrol vessel, Caribou 57, was also active and tracked on AIS.  From Tuesday 1/12 noon through 1/13 it was patrolling withing the southern Gulf Islands.

Track of the patrol vessel Caribou 57 on 1/12-13.

Track of the patrol vessel Caribou 57 on 1/12-13.

Possible US Naval ships in/outbound from Everett on 1/13/2016 (Skunk Bay web cam):

skunkbay-inbound-1226 skunkbay-outbound-0945

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Green Tech Conference 2015 in Seattle (live blog)

I’m giving a talk on our recent paper (PeerJ Preprint) at the Green Tech Conference in Seattle today. Here is the agenda and my presentation:

And some notes I took during the 2-day conference in downtown Seattle.


Green Marine is a non-profit based in Quebec, Canada, that certifies environmentally sustainability in the shipping industry. The initiative has a growing number of Canadian and U.S. ports [Seattle, Long Beach, New Orleans] and has 50 supporters (NGOs [including Seattle-based Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Seattle Aquarium]. The number of participating organizations is growing (about 66% increase between 2013 and 2014).  Green

Panel presentations and discussion


  • Linda Styrk, Managing Director, Seaport Division, Port of Seattle
  • Stephen Edwards, CEO, GCT Global Container Terminals Inc.
  • Dennis McLerran, Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 10


The Century Agenda is the Port of Seattle’s 100-year vision: to be the cleanest, greenest port in North America.  The Green Marine certification program emerged as the best way to progress environmentally.  Stefanie Jones Stephens is Environmental Manager guides performance in different Green Marine metrics.

One practical example of the utility of the certification metrics is comparison with other ports and standards.  The Port was surprised to score low in the in-air noise metric because few complaints had been received (possibly due to their proactive outreach).  Quantitative comparison made it clear that an improvement could be made.

She showed videos of run-off filtering tanks (Harbor Island) and experimental above-ground gardens (“SplashBoxes” in areas where digging isn’t possible) for decreasing water pollution.  In a project managed by GeAlogicA and funded by the Seattle Foundation, Capital Industry built rolling containers that held volcanic soil and plants.  Port developed grant program (~$30,000-50,000 assistance to each participating truck/owner) that helped replace 500 trucks to reduce pollution during the 2000 truck trips per day.

Overarching thought is that the marine industry is very innovative, but perhaps too low-profile about it’s environmental advances.  The Port of Seattle has many other green innovations (biodiesel, stack-scrubbers, …), but too few members of the public know about them.


Container terminals (warehouse w/o roof!) are a distinct operation (e.g. from bulk facilities).  GCT is based in Vancouver owned by a pension fund in Canada with U.S. terminals in New York and Bayonne.  We consider ourselves a technological leader that serves 19 out of 20 global container shipping companies.

We didn’t know how we compared with other organizations in our industry.  Green Marine was chosen because its metrics are driven by the participating organizations, not our customers.

There is an industry shift to larger vessels.  Same number of ships, less weekly trips, and fewer companies.  TEU has nearly doubled in 10 years (~2003-2013).  Europe and Asia are seeing up to 20,000 TEU ships now…

Vessel sharing agreements group shipping companies (e.g. Maersk) into only 4 “customers.”  North American Emissions Control Act caused higher costs in coastal waters (and therefore quicker turn-arounds): cleaner burning fuel costs 600$/ton vs $400/ton in the open ocean.  These changes motivate investments in ship-terminal-truck semi-automation, scheduling, worker safety, and other logistics (e.g. no idling during waits).

Dennis (used to work for Puget Sound Clean Air Agency)

EPA has worked with 159 countries and the IMO to develop a uniform fuel requirement through the North America “ECA” (pronounced “Eek-uh” = Emissions Control Act requires large vessels to use cleaner fuel within 200 nautical miles of the coast).  This rule prevents 31,000 premature deaths, 1.4 M loss work days, as well as lost school days (through the connection between ship exhaust and human health).

EPA is committed to working with the industry to find innovations that benefit the environment as well as the bottom line.  Some examples of mutually-beneficial partnerships with industry.  EPA worked with Tacoma-based Tote (RoRo line) is converting ships to burn (non-distiallate) cleaner fuels or LNG, which in the long-term will reduce cost of consumer goods in Alaska.  Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA funding, RFP due June 15) has reduced pollution while returning value to the U.S. Government (usually through reduced human health costs).  The SmartWay programs helps partners move more goods for reduced cost, in part by building off EPA’s brand equity.

EPA is developing a national port initiative, building off experience and leadership (of CA Ports).  The key is for Ports to realize that they are stronger when both providing services to their customers and keeping their local communities and workers healthy.

 10:30 session


4 talks:

  1. Emissions scrubbers on the Algoma Equinox class vessels (Mira Hube)
    1. These ships are more fuel efficient and have reduced water use and noise pollution.
    2. We operate in emissions control area 100% of the time, so needed to reduce sulfur emissions (and NOx and particulates)
      1. LNG was an options, but there is a lack of LNG infrastructure in the Great Lakes
      2. EGCS
    3. Overview of exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS)
      1. Manufactured by Clean Marine (Norway)
      2. Closed-loop, fresh water, NaOH scrubber
      3. Base neutralizes acidic emission components;effluent is treated onboard, then discharged
  2. CSL’s Experience with Ballast Water Management Systems (BWMS) (Yousef El Bagoury; and Kevin Reynolds from Glosten Associates)
    1. How do you choose a BWMS?
      1. 70+ on market; 32 IMO-approved; 16 have USCG temporary approval…
      2. Glosten did early BW installations in 2006, so helped evaluate options
      3. Glosten worked with CSL to 3D laser scan possible sites in CSL ships
        1. How to fit (massive) pumps (2k m^3/hr!); heaters; hydrogen vents; filters?
        2. 3D models and equipment size guided plans for shipyard installation
    2. Lessons learned
      1. Lots of (EPA/USCG) paperwork involved in permits and Class approvals
      2. Site supervision and crew training are critical
      3. Clean ballast tanks prior to commission (ours had mud that clogged filters)
      4. Preparing for USCG approval (testing late summer, 2015)
      5. Other ships getting 3D scans by Glosten
  3. Saga Forest Carriers – Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) Case Study (Birgir Nilsen)
    1. Optimarin started as ballast water treatment company in 1990s.
    2. 225 systems at sea; 50 are in use (on bulk carriers, Naval vessels…); medium scale — up to 3000 m^3/hr (largest are 7000 m^3/hr, e.g. in cruise ships)
    3. Regulatory environment: IMO, but also USA (USGS National Invasive Species Act; EPA Clean Water Act; plus confusing State variants (e.g. CA, Great Lakes))
    4. Pre-market conditions: customer buys equipment and intallation through “type approval certificates” (which should specify limits, like UV transmission and/or temp/salinity…)
    5. Basic system filters first and then disinfects with UV light (up to 35 kW from single lamp!)
    6. Sage Forrest Carriers (Optimarin customer)
      1. Open hatch mostly in paper pulp trade
      2. 1-2 km^3/hr ballast flows
      3. 3D scans (through Goltens sub-contract) of 24 ships (4 different ship designs)
      4. Little to no space: used part of ballast tank for equipment!
      5. System successful, but key is user training and operation manual (via officer conferences)
  4. Membrane Scrubber Technology for SOx Removal from Engine Exhaust (Gerry Carter & Edoardo Panziera)
    1. Wet scrubbers (dry scrubbers are used on land, but takes too long to warm up/down & maintain)
    2. All designs use combinations of sprayers and filters and (Achilles heel) water treatment systems
    3. Ionada innovation is a ceramic membrane separation technology
      1. Provides surface area for the chemical reactions (resulting in a clean crystal)
      2. But without mixing with the exhaust gases
      3. No PAH wastewater treatment!
      4. Potassium carbonate is less toxic than NaOH; reacts with SOx to from K2CO3 (a fertilizer).
      5. $14 to purchase KCO3; $14 from sale of fertilizer!


1330 session


Cooperation between NGOs and Industry to Define Sustainable Development in the Canadian Arctic

Andrew Dumbrille, WWF Canada & Marc Gagnon, Fednav

  • FedNav (Marc)
    • Canada’s largest dry cargo shipping group
    • 1/3 grain, 12% steel, 14% alumina, 17% industrial mineral
    • 80 ships: 59 operating, mostly handysize (Lakers), but more and more supramax and ultramax ships
    • 24 ships on order, growth in part developing Arctic (Baffinland iron ore; Red Dog AK zinc/lead)
    • Has environmental policy
  • Working with WWF since 2011 (Marc)
    • chosen due to being leader in industry, only company in Arctic during winter
    • shared vision signed 2013
    • What does it take to work with an NGO?  Patience!
    • Shared goals: environmental; economic; polar guidelines
    • Completed “Best Practices in the Arctic” document
    • Challenges: goals are different!  Different positions on Arctic shipping (LNG only initiative is economic folly).  Other WWF partnerships are sometimes in conflict with FedNav collaboration.
  • WWF (Andrew)
    • 5M members, 5000 staff, 500 million raised
    • Hudson Strait: Reducing shipping impacts & risks (May 2015 contract report by Vard Marine, funded by FedNav)
    • Key recommendation was a Polar Shipping Operating Manual (e.g. marine mammal behavior, set-backs, etc.)

Radical Improvements in Vessel Efficiency


Lee Kindberg, Maersk Line (co-chairing EPA Clean Cargo working group)

  • Maersk enables trade with benefits and costs to the planet and humanity.
    • 90% of all goods transported globally are carried by ship
    • Ocean shipping 4% of global emissions (though NASA map still shows an impact)
    • Since 2007, Maersk has been able to grow containers shipped by 40% while lowering CO2 emissions by 25%
    • Energy efficiency makes good business sense.
    • Using Clean Cargo Working Group metric, mean CO2/TEU/km, levels fell from 70-45% between 2008 and 2013 through new vessels, eco-retrofitting old vessels, “smart steaming” and network design (which ports of call, scheduling, personnel efficiency competitions)
    • 2020 goal is 60% reduction
    • Voyage Efficiency Systems (communications between leading and following ships) has evolved to Global Voyage Center (in India staffed 24/7 by 10 masters & 10 chief engineers)
    • Terminal Efficiency Project: minimize harbor time to reduce local emissions, then slow steam later to regain coastal fuel losses
    • New ships higher efficiency and have enormous economies of scale (e.g. Mary Maersk carries ~17.6 kTEU at 2,200 miles/gallon/ton)
    • Of three new classes, biggest is Triple E: 18 kTEU, 50% more efficient (in part through waste-heat recovery systems)
    • Retrofit options: new bulbous bow (“nose job” helps when vessels that used to run 22-24 knots are running at 16-18), prop, propeller boss cap fin, engine de-rating, fuel flow meters.
    • Propeller optimization reduces cavitation
    • Committed to $1 billion over 5 years for retrofitting 100 of owned vessels
    • Reducing speed to <10 knots in Santa Barbara channel when whales are present… also have reduced speed on Atlantic seaboard (to protect Right whales?)
    • Big shippers have played a role in motivating lower carbon shipping initiatives, but so have our core values… as have the economics of increased fuel efficiency in an era of expensive fuel.

ECHO Program: Collaborating to Manage Potential Threats to At-Risk Whales from Commercial Vessels
Carrie Brown & Orla Robinson, Port Metro Vancouver (Environmental Programs Department)

  • Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation Program
    • Mandate under Canada Marine Act: facilitate trade but in ways that are safe for the environment
    • Initiated due to DFO status of species at risk and projected shipping growth
    • History
      • 2014-15 planning and launch
      • 2016-17 development of target and implementing mitigation
      • 2017 manage adaptively to reduce threats over time
    • Advisory Working Group
    • Acoustic Technical Committee: DFO, JASCO, NOAA, ONC, Robert Allan Naval Architects, SMRU, Transport Canada, UBC, U St. Andrews, Vancouver Aquarium, WA State Ferries
    • Work plan: acoustic disturbance, physical disturbance, environmental contaminants; timely as in the last month we had a fuel spill in English Bay and a fin whale on a cruise ship bow
    • Acoustic Disturbance focus areas: will include vessel noise “weigh station,” hull cleaning
    • Mitigation prospects: green tech, operational management options, criteria for Green Marine performance indicators (ultimately adding noise to air quality EcoAction program)
    • Physical disturbance: working with DFO to survey and assess strike risk assessment; whale sighting and notification system; west coast mariner’s guide…
    • Environmental contaminants: baseline sampling sediments and mussels, esp during hull cleaning

15:30 session


Whales in an Ocean of Noise: How Manmade Sounds Impact Marine Life

(Kathy Heise, Vancouver Aquarium)

Early hydrophone work was from lighthouse, small boats, and included interest in Pacific White-sided Dolphins.

Shipping industry should keep in mind role of ship noise in cumulative acoustic impacts on all sound-using marine organisms (with other major sources being pile driving, seismic surveys, and military sonar).

Change is beginning:  2009 letter to Obama; IMO voluntary guidelines for vessel equipment and design (2014); EU Marine Strategy Framework.  Good news is that practical solutions are at hand.  It may be more expensive initially, but can save money in the long run.


Ship Noise in an Urban Estuary Extends to Frequencies Used by Endangered Killer Whales

(Scott Veirs, Beam Reach Marine Science)


Control and Measurement of Underwater Ship Noise

(Michael Bahtiarian, Noise Control Engineering)

  • Ship noise vs shipping noise
    • Analogy with aircraft and airports, but aircraft have a service life of 5 years while ships have one of 20-30 years, so quieting may be slower than what occurred in planes in the 1960s and 1970s.
    • Research and fisheries have much of the quieting technology (not just the Navies)
  • Vessel noise sources: cavitation, machinery,…
  • Ship Noise Analysis Software helps establish a baseline and then assess improvements
  • Mitigation technologies: insulation; vibration isolation; damping (spray-on and tile versions; from military innovations); floating floors/rooms; bow thruster and HVAC treatments
  • Existing benchmarks
    • International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (1995) ICES/CRR-209
      • applies to fisheries and research vessels
      • Followed by Europeans since 1995
    • DNV, Silent class, 2010
      • various “notations” (grades)
      • Notations depend on class
  • Measurement standards
    • ANSI/ASA S12.64: Established 2009, first standard for UWRN
    • Meeting next week to finalize ISO 17208-1: Precision method for deep water
    • General methodology (figures from ANSI/ASA S12.64-2009)
    • Facilities for UWRN measurements (can be provided to private industry by Navies)
      • SEAFAC (Ketchikan, AK)
      • Dabob Bay (Seattle, WA)
      • San Clement Island (San Diego, CA)
      • Florida
      • Halifax?
    • Noise Control Engineering uses BAMS (Buoy Acoustic Monitoring System)
  • UWRN Design Guidance
    • SNAME T&R Bulletin, 3-37, “Design Guide for Shipboard Airborne Noise Control,” 1983 (Supl 2000)
    • JIP/OGP Report
    • SNAME 6-2, MVEP GM-1, Ocean Health and Aquatic Life
    • BOEM Report 2014-061
    • Pending IMO Guide “Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise for commercial shipping (estimated to be issued by 2016); a bit of a compromise of US, China, Europe, and (opposing) flag nations like Vanatu


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