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Listen to orcas on new underwater microphone installed off Whidbey Island

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There is a new way you can enjoy the Orcas who call the Puget Sound home. They are now starting to return to region and the Orca Network just installed a new underwater microphone, also called a hydrophone, on the west side of Whidbey Island to monitor their activity.

It's a new tool to monitor the Southern Resident Orcas.

“We all have this innate curiosity about what are they saying,” said Scott Veirs, coordinator for the Orca Network. “We’re a very vocal special. Killer whales are also very vocal. They have a wide range of sound they make --from calls to clicks to whistles.”

In the fall and early winter, Orcas spend a lot of their time feeding on salmon in Puget Sound.

“We can hear killer whales 10 kilometers away with this, so that’s like 6 miles,” said Veirs.

We talked to diver Florian Graner who installed the hydrophone

“This is a very strategic one for Puget Sound and it gives everyone an opportunity to listen to the whales and the same time, you can hear boats. You can hear freighters,” said Graner.

Scientists say the Orca population is struggling for a number of reasons including the decreasing Chinook population and noise in the water makes it harder for whales - who use sound to navigate - to find food. Scientists say they hope people will enjoy listening to the animals but will also do something to protect them.

You can listen in on the hydrophone on the Internet at Live.Orcasound.net>>

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