Killer Whale Calls

The following audio was recorded in early October in Haro Straight off San Juan Island in Washington.  There were about 20 whales or so – if you close your eyes, you can picture the backdrop of a jungle just as easily as the ocean.

A hydrophone was used to capture the sounds, and although it may sound like birds, the recording is only of whale calls.

For more sea sounds, please visit the Salish Sea Hydrophone Network at orcasound.net.


Killer Whales Photo: Carl Safina
Killer Whales
Photo: Carl Safina

Killer Whales Calling (2)

Ecologist Carl Safina is author of seven books, including the best-selling “Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel,” and “Song for the Blue Ocean,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has won a MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, CNN.com and elsewhere, and he hosted the 10-part “Saving the Ocean” on PBS. Safina is founding president of The Safina Center at Stony Brook University.
  • carl safina

    About those killer whales in my photo here: This group is part of L-Pod of the endangered Southern Resident community (which totaled 81 whales in three pods in 2013). They are fish-eaters. We’re off the state of Washington in Haro Strait. The high-finned adult male is L-41; he was born in 1977. The female whose fin is second from left is L-22, born 1971. Thanks to Ken Balcomb and his Center for Whale Research for guidance to the whales and identification.

  • T.Bhattacharya

    They are the fighters of the ocean with sophisticated skills,mankind should give them a chance to survive freely.

  • Michele Franko

    Hi Carl, so beautiful and refreshing to listen to them just after watching Blackfish and just reading that Seaworld’s stock has gone down as a result of the general public watching it on CNN. I was doing the same thing with a pod of humpbacks off Kona last Feb, what a chorus just beneath us… 🙂 Michele

  • Scott Veirs

    Interesting, I hear some of the characteristic calls of J pod (S1) and K pod (S16), but not any L pod favorites (S19). It’s pretty hard to tell given how many overlapping calls there are. You’re right it sounds like a jungle and normally the calls are a good bit more separated.

    One time I recall hearing such a chorus was during this “ceremony” that involved members of multiple pods lining up to greet each other. https://youtu.be/MBpCLjdJmss?t=4m28s

    If you, Carl, or any of your readers are interested in helping us gather and share more of the wonderful sounds of the endangered southern residents, please spread the word about our 2017 spring Kickstarter! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1114690397/orcasound-listen-for-whales?ref=686x3w

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