Deploying acoustic buoys off western Iceland to study whale sounds and shipping noise

October 15, 2020

Never tired of the sea or adventures, right after coming back from the fantastic OM expedition, some of the team members sailed North West Iceland again to complete one of our missions of 2020. This time we team up with North Sailing, and Rannsóknasetur Háskóla Íslands a Húsavík (Research Centre) teams, we set our course towards the western edge of the Icelandic continental shelf onboard Garðar to deploy two passive acoustic monitoring devices on behalf of WWF (World Wild Fund for Nature), to study blue whales vocalizations and the overlapping with shipping noise for a year time period. 

After four days at sea with challenging conditions we are coming back in calm seas with a smile in our faces and hoping to reach land (to have a proper shower) while we listen to our inspiring words from our captain Heimir Hardarson: “This mission proved successful. Both hydrophones are deployed in the non-trawling zone west of Iceland, 50NM apart. The journey took 83 hours and counted nearly 600 nautical miles in different kinds of sea states and weather. For a tough crew of 6 it was a pleasant journey. This mission was accomplished thanks to a great team of m/v Garðar: Aðalgeir Bjarnason, captain. Heimir Harðarson, first mate Hörður Sigurbjarnarson, second mate Þórarinn Höskuldsson, engineer Belén Garcia Ovide, deckhand/scientist Charla Basran, deckhand/scientist.

On our way we saw a pod of killer whales, 2 minke whales, one humpback whale, and record non frequent” seabird sightings: one Little Auk (Alle alle) and Sooty shearwaters (Ardenna grisea)! All these sightings will be used to know more about whales and bird’s distribution in Icelandic waters. Next year the mission continues to recover the buoys (hydrophones) up to the surface in order to access to the data recorded during one year!

One more mission accomplished! Keep tuned! Soon we will release pictures on the official OM site: www.oceanmissions.org.

Here you are a short video of the experience.

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