Posted by: Team - Bowhead whale | March 15, 2015

Finding alternative solutions

Since the PAM Station at Qaqqaliaq is presenting so much trouble because of the radio signal getting into our electronic system and masking the underwater sounds we had to improvise an alternative solution.

It is important not to let the frustration take over your mood and understand that doing field work in the Arctic it’s at the least challenging. We are trying to obtain data while being in an extreme environment as well as quite isolated (people and supplies can only arrive to Qeqertarsuaq by helicopter at this time of the year where the sea ice coverage is between 75 and 99 %) and this means that solving problems is not allways easy and fast.  Nevertheless, it is still very important to get some more clear recordings of the season, so why not to try to record from a nearby area where no big logistics would be needed?

The hydrophone deployed at the spot on the west side of the  big iceberg in front of Arctic station. The ice was very thick (50 - 60 cm).  This spot is located in shalow waters and unfortunately no bowheads could be heard. Photo: L. Agusti

The hydrophone deployed at the spot on the west side of the big iceberg in front of Arctic station. The ice was very thick (50 – 60 cm). This spot is located in shalow waters and unfortunately no bowheads could be heard. Photo: L. Agusti

Laia went twice to the sea ice near the Arctic Station where the only necessary elements for getting clear recordings were: a tuk (to cut a hole in the ice), a thermo with warm tea, the listening backpack which contains a hydrophone, some cables, pre-amplifier, mobile power suply and recorder and of course to walk for half an hour.

The first spot chosen for the recordings was located on the west side of the big iceberg. It turned out to be not the best choice for the recordings, probably due to the proximity to land, the small depth and a lot of water current noise. On the next day, Laia went to the east side of the big iceberg, where the depth is around 100 meters. Reusing a hole in the ice where Fin and John had been fishing earlier made it more easy and after deploying the hydrophone in the water, a feeling of excitement and satisfaction toke over the frustration. This time yes! There were bowhead whales and bearded seals. Finally some good quality recordings, there wasn’t too much water current noise and the acoustic signals sounded close and loud.

Reusing a fishing hole in the ice, on the east side of the big iceberg. This was the winner spot. Photo: L. Agusti

Reusing a fishing hole in the ice, on the east side of the big iceberg. This was the winner spot. Photo: L. Agusti


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