Day 8, looking for whales at very low densities, and grateful for hydrophones — our ears in the water

Unlike what some people might imagine our work entails, it is not uncommon for us to spend up to 99% of our time looking at just water. Such days can be tough, as we must remain in full concentration scanning the horizon in order to conduct a rigorous survey.

Fortunately, the Gulf of Chiriquí and its many island groups offer gorgeous vistas of unspoiled nature. And when whales are in very low densities, as is the case in this expedition, we have a secret weapon: the hydrophone.

At the end of a very long day on the water today we were rewarded with humpback whale song coming out of our earphones during the last listening station. We implemented a trial-and-error search pattern for about an hour and a half to locate the lone singer. Ultimately we were unsuccessful in locating him before we had to return home, but in the process we learned a little bit about the range of our hydrophone as well as about how to go about conducting such searches in the future.

We can always hope for visual detections in coming days, but every record of presence is a small victory in this project, and after a few days without whales we were excited to hear them again!

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