Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | February 22, 2015

Trip to Kangarssuk

Hunters are telling that they are seeing bowhead whales in the open water outside Laksebugt so we head out with John, Felix and Johan hoping to get some better recordings closer to the whales. Johan guides us safely through the archipelago of Fortuna Bay avoiding all the many weak ice spots and finally we arrive in Kangarssuk at the mouth of Laksebugt bay. The ice is solid enough but not thick so Johan is very quick in cutting a hole through the ice where we drop our hydrophone. The whales are indeed closer and their singing much louder.

Making recordings on the ice of Laksebugt bay. Photo: L. Agusti

Making recordings on the ice of Laksebugt bay. Photo: L. Agusti

The temperature is below -20 and the cold wind is making our cables and fingers stiff (and Outi´s nose is about to fall off). Back in Fortuna Bay Felix has the fire going in his hut – warm tea and chocolate have never tasted as good.

Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | February 18, 2015

First bowhead song of 2015

Disko Bay is covered in ice but already the hunters are reporting that bowhead whales have arrived. The ride to Qaqqaliaq in the outskirts of the town Qeqertarsuaq was easy with the brand new snow scooter of the Arctic Station but standing upright on the cliffs of Qaqqaliaq was another thing. There had been a føhn wind (a very warm sudden gust of air) event in late January – early February were the temperature had risen to + degrees and snow turned into rain. This rain had frozen immediately into ice on the cold cliffs and turned them into a very challenging ice skating ring. With caution we eased ourselves down the cliffs and managed to deploy a hydrophone over the impressive mountain of blocks of ice pushed to shore – and heard, although faintly, the first singing bowhead whales!

Outi and Laia setting up the recording system in Qaqqaliaq. Photo: J. Jakobsen

Outi and Laia setting up the recording system in Qaqqaliaq. Photo: J. Jakobsen

Hydrophone in the water over the icefoot. Photo: L. Agusti

Hydrophone in the water over the icefoot. There are common eider ducks in the little open patch of water. Photo: L. Agusti

Spectrogram of part of one of the songs of 2015.

Spectrogram of part of one of the songs of 2015.

Common eider ducks Somateria mollissima and great cormorants Phalachocorax carbo had taken refuge in the open water patch created by the current around the peak.

The passive acoustic monitering station at the light house had (at least partly) survived the winter – the computer in the lighthouse was still running though covered in a dust of sea salt but the two hydrophones we deployed in May 2014 were long gone. During the next month we hope to re-establish the 24/7 recording station and until then we will keep on monitering the acoustic behaviour of the whales using the hand held setup.

Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | 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.

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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 - Bowhead whale | 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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | 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 - Bowhead whale | January 2, 2013

New publication

PlosOne

Read the article here

Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | April 9, 2012

A different sea – The ice is breaking up and drifting apart

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 - Bowhead whale | 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.

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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

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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

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

Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | 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 - Bowhead whale | 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

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