Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | January 3, 2012

First listening trip of the season

We have had a very cold autumn and early winter with temperatures below – 15 degrees C. This means that a lot of sea ice has formed in Disko Bay and the massive West ice from Canada is closing in. There are no visual sightings of bowhead whales in Disko Bay yet, only some belugas and narwhals have been seen.

A few days after New Year we walked out to Qaqqalia, our listening post on the Southern tip of Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island, West Greenland. We were lucky to have almost full moon to light the way – the sun in here was last seen on the 31st of November. The sea was calm and silent. More silent than almost ever before with just an occasional breaking iceberg. Eider ducks Somateria mollissima darted through the darkness with only the hissing sound from their wings giving them away.

Outi at Qaqqaliaq with the moon shining in the background. Photo: M.Christoffersen.

We are using a HTI hydrophone coupled to ETEC pre-amplifiers set at 20 dB amplification. The signal is recorded with Olympus LS-11 digital recorder. The whole setup can fit into one hockey bag and does not weigh more than 10 kg including 30 m of hydrophone cable.  On this extraordinary calm afternoon we set the amplification up to 30 dB in order to pick up any faint bowhead whale signal far away. We did hear something resembling a bowhead whale but the signal was too weak to really be sure. This was very exciting and promising anyway and we look forward to the next time.