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.


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