Researchers capitalized on a summer without cruise ship traffic to hear how whales respond to a quieter underwater world.

It's Time to Listen

1x7 min for

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Producer/Director: Louisa Gilbert
Camera: Dierdre Leowinata, Megan-Hockin-Bennett, and Tavish Campbell
Editor: Kai White

Sound: EarWorm Sound
Associate Producer: Katrina Pyne

Additional Footage: OrcaLab and Hakai Institute

Made in partnership with

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The story

The onset of COVID-19 created devastation worldwide. But for whale researchers like Janie Wray, who has been studying the unique calls of killer, humpback, and fin whales in British Columbia for more than 20 years, the pandemic presented a unique opportunity—a chance to hear how whales respond to a quieter underwater world.

Wray, the lead researcher for BC Whales and the CEO of the nonprofit North Coast Cetacean Society, seized the moment to partner with her colleagues Paul Spong and Helena Symonds at OrcaLab to hear how whales communicate when the underwater landscape is free from the chugging, droning, and ear-splitting sounds of cruise ships.

The work will ultimately help the researchers learn more about habitat usage and how moving shipping lanes could mitigate the impact of noise pollution on whales. In the meantime, all they have to do is listen.

Read the full story and watch the film here.

"The Wild Bus team are an absolute pleasure to work with. Louisa has an exceptional gift for storytelling and an eye for the cinematic that makes her an invaluable resource to any film project. Louisa's team has a real talent for working in remote and challenging conditions and her access to these places, and willingness to work in challenging conditions, makes her a real asset. Will absolutely be working with her again!"

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Hakai Institute & Hakai Magazine