Posted by: Team 2010 | March 31, 2013

Ice fishing and listening

January has turned into February and ice has formed over a great area. It is now impossible to get the hydrophone in the water at Qaqqaliaq  ( The permanent recording  equipment  from last year is demounted ) The option for following the development in bowhead singing behaviour is now to walk out on the sea ice and drill or hack  a hole  for the hydrophone.

After slow start, a routine has now been established.

Joining two part time fishermen  when going to the ice gives the opportunity to feel safe and a having  company when recording is going on. Besides the creatures (fish and sharks ) pulled up  from the sea is interesting. On the pictures you see the fishermen and  some of the catch: wolffish and shark. A total of 4 sharks where caught over a period of a week. Average size 3.4 meter.



Greenland shark Microcephalus somniosus (note the green glove for size estimate)

Greenland shark Microcephalus somniosus (note the green glove for size estimate). Photo: M. Christoffersen

Spotted wolffish instantly frozen at arrival to the surface. Water temperature -2 C and surafce temperature - 21 C, with windchill factor -35 C. Bloody cold. Photo: M. Christoffersen

Spotted wolffish instantly frozen at arrival to the surface. Water temperature -2 C and surface temperature – 21 C, with windchill factor -35 C. Bloody cold. Photo: M. Christoffersen

When lines a back in the hole this is a convenient place to submerge the hydrophone and from 10 of February bowheads were heard  on every listening session.

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Posted by: Team 2010 | March 31, 2013

The song of 2013

It is late March but the weather is like in May. Incredibly sunny, warm and almost snow. The bowhead whales are here nevertheless and we have again established our hydrophone station at Qaqqaliaq.


Mads and Outi at Qaqqaliaq setting up the hydrophone station. Photo: T. Uldbjerg


The song of 2013, or one of the songs to be precise, resembles the police siren song of 2005 but has a new phrase at the end of it.


Oscillogram and spectrogram of bowhead whale song on the 27th of March 2013.

There were at least 3 whales singing at the same time on this quiet evening. Bearded seal trills were part of the soundscape as usual.


Christian listening to Disko live underwater. Photo: C. Uldbjerg


Posted by: Team 2010 | February 1, 2013

Starting a new season

A long and dark autumn is now turning into a lighter winter. Sow and ice is everywhere. Bowhead whales arrived mid January around the Kangerluk fjord and after some listening sessions finally in the last week of January they could be heard very faintly from Qaqqaliaq.
We are looking foreward to more light and whales that are closer.

Winter day in Disko Bay. Photo: M. Christoffersen

Winter day in Disko Bay. Photo: M. Christoffersen

Posted by: Team 2010 | January 2, 2013

New publication


Read the article here

After two months with ice covered sea the ice suddenly broke up on Easter Sunday at midday.  Watching from the window in the morning we could see a fisherman and his dog on their way back from tending their net, they walked happily on the ice covered sea. At noon swell started, wind picked up and in the evening the view from the window was blue sea and white icebergs, and at the same time we could for the first time hear the sound of waves.

Morning picture from our living room: A fisherman (Finn Steffens) walking on the ice covered sea on his way back from his fishing gear. Photo: M. Christoffersen

Evening picture from the same position and direction: Now the same area is open for sailing. Photo: M. Christoffersen

Today Monday we have prepared the second dinghy to go out and when whether is fair we will start ID photo sessions. We have checked the Qaqqaliaq array also to see if the ice have carried the hydrophones away like it happened in 2007 but both hydrophones were fine and several whales were heard and seen.

Posted by: Team 2010 | April 2, 2012

Hydrophone array on the ice

The two hydrophone array in Qaqqaliaq lighthouse has exceeded all our expectations and has been running smoothly since we started it in February. Our hopes of making 4 channel recordings from the lighthouse though crashed to an unidentified noise source which we could not a) identify and b) get rid off. Luckily the stable sea ice, that we have had plenty of this winter, proved to be an excellent platform for array recordings.


Setting up the array on the ice was both cold (due to an icy wind) and sweaty (due to thick ice combined with an unsharp icedrill). Luckily we had Malene and Laila with us to help. Photo: L. Kofoed Espersen


Stable sea ice has opened new possibilities this year. A lead in the ice saved us from making new holes for our hydrophones - very practical. Photo: L. Kofoed Espersen


After fiddling with the cables the system was finally working and we could hear the whales. Photo: L. Kofoed Espersen

Posted by: Team 2010 | March 20, 2012

First ID pictures

One of the many bowhead whales in the ice viewed from Qaqqaliaq and photograph with a strong tele lens. Photo: O.Tervo

Maintaining the recording equipment as usual gave us today the opportunity to get the first ID picture of the season. There is still too much ice for sailing but the whales are in the area navigating in the leads and cracks in the ice. Temperatures are still below – 15 and a light breeze today made the chill factor well below -25. Anyway, the chance of getting the pictures made us wait for more than an hour on the cliffs which finally paid off.

After 50 minutes the waitng paid off - a bowhead whale was close enough for registering (ID-picture) the little marks and scars on it. Note one in the front and two scars on the back. Photo: O. Tervo

Posted by: Team 2010 | March 16, 2012

Polar bear in the Kangerluk fjord

Mikkel using a tuk (spear like tool) to make a hole in the ice for our hydrophone. The ice was 30 cm thick. Photo: O. Tervo

Mikkel and Outi drove with a snowscooter to the beautiful Kangerluk fjord 40 km North from Qeqertarsuaq. The aim was to make recordings of bowhead whales at the mouth of the fjord but due to a logistic problems (I (Outi) forgot a cable) we never managed to get any. On the other hand the trip was wonderful and we were lucky to see the foot prints of a young polar bear. The bear had been in the nearby village of Kangerluk but even if stayed overnight in a small hunters hut hoping to get a glimpse of this majestic animal, the bear did not show himself.

Tracks of a young polar bear in Kangerluk. Photo: O. Tervo

Posted by: Team 2010 | March 13, 2012

Difficult working conditions for a hunter

Here are three pictures in a series showing a hunter bringing his boat from the ice edge 2 kilometers out at sea to a safe haven. The pictures were taken from our field office Qaqqaliaq while we were having cold and difficult working conditions as well.

The dogs belonging to the homecoming hunter have waited a the ice edge the whole day and are now trying together with their owner to pull the boat to shore. Photo: M. Christoffersen

The laod was too heavy so a snowscooter is ready to pull together with the dogs. Photo: M. Christoffersen

Success! Now even the hunter gets a ride sitting on the back of his boat. Photo: M. Christoffersen

Posted by: Team 2010 | March 11, 2012

Bowhead whales in the computer and in the nature

Due to the weather conditions we are still landlocked, there is still too much ice and there is not getting less. Still we don’t waste our time, we keep recording song and are getting equipment prepared and repaired so that we can expand the sampling. Also, if there should ever be a dull moment I will always have data that need analysis, here a faction of a sequence from a long gone bowhead whale.

Chromatogram of a bowhead whale from 1880 A.D.

And speaking of Bowheads, today I had the experience of seeing my first living Bowhead Whale, it surfaced in open water in an opening exposed by the wind, it was the blow that gave it away, the same thing that whalers used to spot them in these waters, back in the time where they were almost hunted to extinction.

A bowhead whale surfacing in a lead (marked with the arrow). Photo: M. Sinding

In the last few days there has been a harder wind, making more ice movement and we hope that the wind perhaps will clear the water for us. Until then we continue improving acoustic sampling, analyses of data and service equipment.

But I have to say that even though the Ice blocks the sea, it is a very beautiful sight to which I never grow tired.

Qaqqaliaq in beautifully cold weather. Photo: M. Sinding

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