Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard announced $7.2 million in new funding for Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. The money will be used to increase the use of digital hydrophone and oceanographic technologies to improve the existing network of underwater listening stations along the Pacific Coast.
The expanded network will enhance the scientific understanding of the underwater acoustic environment and how noise management and mitigation could help species in key habitats, including the areas frequented by killer whales. The investment will also provide more data on the speed and direction of ocean currents which has the potential to improve navigation and emergency response times.
ONC has been providing infrastructure and data management for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program since 2015. With the support of JASCO Applied Sciences, this underwater listening station monitors the noise from ships in the Strait of Georgia.
Underwater noise has been identified as one of three key threats to at-risk whales, alongside inefficient availability of healthy food sources, and human-caused stressors (such as climate change).