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A new app for hearing ocean sounds, both live and recorded.  Listen for whales, report dangerous noises, & help decode orca language.
An app for hearing ocean sounds, both live and recorded.  Listen for whales, report dangerous noises, & help decode orca language.
An app for hearing ocean sounds, both live and recorded. Listen for whales, report dangerous noises, & help decode orca language.
224 backers pledged $21,886 to help bring this project to life.

About

Orcasound - Listen for whales

$21,886

224

Orcasound

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Be a force in ocean conservation

Immerse yourself in underwater soundscapes, monitor the environment for noise pollution from ships or military sonar, and advance our understanding of orca vocalizations through citizen science projects. This is your chance to hear amazing live or recorded performances by orcas or humpbacks, like this:

15 years in the making, Orcasound brings the sounds of the sea to 20,000 listeners per year. Our global community listens together, monitoring the environment 24/7 and acting to stop dangerous noise. Thanks to early backers, we reached our initial goal (on 5/18).  We will recognize this foundational support with a special reward at the end of the campaign and commence development of a new app with zero-limitations listening and a new interactive design.

With the new Orcasound app, every listener can easily report hearing a sound or respond to a notification. What a force in ocean conservation we could be with an app that can send a call to action along with real-time notifications of acoustic events -- not only to regular listeners, but also to the thousands of citizens per year who visit our educational partners, including aquariums, science centers, museums, and state parks.

Now all backers -- early and new -- can take it a step further by helping us expand our network coverage from 20% of endangered orca habitat, to 80%. If we hit our stretch goals, you’ll also fund new features like innovative ways to learn common sounds, Android and iOS apps, and machine learning experiments.

Help us unlock the power of hydrophones, our devices, and human curiosity about the natural world. There are undiscovered possibilities at their intersection, and it’ll take a community-wide effort to explore them. 

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New rewards!

 

We want to create immense value for our new and existing members. We know together we can all create a new and thriving community around soundscapes, conservation, and our phones! We want you to help us shape our product and community as a thought leader, help each other advocate for ocean conservation, and create tools that make us all better at taking action to conserve local environments.  

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Why donate today?

Become a founder

Establish a first-of-its-kind hydrophone network that connects and supports conservation organizations that are in need of inspirational ocean sounds from around the world.

Advocate for ocean conservation

As part of a community of founding backers and citizen scientists you’ll directly fund and participate in activities related to marine biology, oceanography, and STEM education.

Influence policymakers 

Your pledge helps generate notices and data that inform new policies on endangered species recovery, marine protected areas, noise pollution, and marine conservation.

Apply new technology and citizen science to local problems 

Orcasound has a vision for citizen scientists (like you!) working together to conserve whales, reduce noise pollution in the oceans, and engage with a broad community of researchers, educators, and other listeners.

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Our Story

The vision for Orcasound is to combine the best hydrophones, web-based audio technologies, and citizen science infrastructure to build innovative tools for monitoring acoustic ecology in the local ocean and facilitating marine conservation. The network is a cooperative partnership that has shared ocean sounds and science with some of the most recognized marine conservation organizations in the world, including National Geographic, NOAA, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, NRDC, EarthJustice, World Wildlife Fund, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada. For more than 15 years we have shared the wonders of the ocean soundscape and raised awareness about ocean noise in partnership with a wide range of local organizations.

Our partners
Our partners

Based in Washington State, Orcasound is led by founders, Scott and Val Veirs, who have utilized the hydrophone network to study the bioacoustics of endangered southern resident killer whales, as well as the underwater noise pollution in their habitat. Val and Scott have collaborated recently with their colleagues to show that orcas raise their voices when boat noise increases, and to quantify how loud ships are in the Salish Sea and how we might quiet ships and begin to reduce ocean noise levels. Using multiple hydrophones to triangulate which call comes from which orca, they have also demonstrated that orca calves and their families communicate through an exchange of calls.

Our team

 

 

We're all friends from Seattle!
We're all friends from Seattle!

 

Community members
Community members

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What is Orcasound?

An ocean of sound in your pocket.

Orcasound allows listeners to report when they hear interesting or worrisome sounds underwater, notify our community of new listening opportunities and associated conservation actions. This will be coordinated with re-engineering the hardware and software that will be deployed at each hydrophone node in the Network. Orcasound is connected to a network of hydrophones (underwater microphones) that are always on and listening. The more hydrophones there are, the more places we can hear underwater, plain and simple.

We have a simple plan to help you be a force for ocean conservation. Listen for sounds, press a button if you hear something awesome or worrisome, and website visitors get a notification.

 

 

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Goals

$15K (funded 5/18!) Orcasound listening website with notifications + new hydrophone data infrastructure.

Stretch goal 1: $25k Funds new hydrophone deployment and testing + Orcasound brand identity + Orcasound digital asset upgrades

  • Over the winter we'll test a suite of hydrophones -- some for inexpensive listening, others for cost-effective calibrated research -- so that a perfect combination of software and hardware can be offered in 2018, both to new locations and as replacements for nodes that experience failures.
  • Founders + influencers help with our design and research process as we develop the brand identity for Orcasound.
  • Orcasound app beta-testers help us turn our many recordings and visualizations into new resources that let listeners learn to recognize ocean sounds.  (Think better versions of our "sound tutor...")

Stretch goal 2: $35k Gets three more hydrophones streaming from the Salish Sea + Development of the Orcasound Library!

Extant (green) and other/potential hydrophone locations in the habitat of the endangered southern resident killer whales.
Extant (green) and other/potential hydrophone locations in the habitat of the endangered southern resident killer whales.

 

 

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Timeline

Product 

User Research - June 

Development - June is Orca awareness month!

Testing - July

Beta launch - July / August 

Hydrophones

Acquisition- June 

Hydrophones go in the water - July 

Calibration and testing - August 

Heavy weather testing - Winter 2017

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Credits

Orca icon 

Whales are weird by Khanh Mai

Orca image 

Anastasia Shabalina

Avatar Icon 

Cartoon-characters by Netguru

Risks and challenges

Getting audio to play seamlessly through browsers and on today's diverse devices is still tricky, but it's getting easier. One risk is that the vagaries of the Internet (like different devices wanting different audio formats) will continue to make it difficult for some people to listen for whales.

We're confident though that we can make a quantum leap forward in functionality and accessibility. We've got a tech team with lots of experience processing and streaming audio, both in web-based and device-based apps. We plan to develop the app first for the web. Should we meet our funding goal, Android and iOS devices will get apps next.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Favorite calls of our local orcas

    Each of the three pods of our local salmon-eating killer whales has a favorite call. When you hear it, you can be sure you're listening to a member of J, K, or L pod. For this pledge you get a digital copy of our best recording of the three calls: S1 (J pod); S16 (K pod); & S19 (L pod).

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Greatest hits of local orcas (2000-2017)

    Our favorite orca recordings from more than 15 years of listening to the Salish Sea and Northeast Pacific. For this amount you'll get a digital download of our best recordings of Southern Resident orcas, including examples of all of their different stereotyped calls, their whistles and echolocation clicks, as well as the percussive sounds they make by hitting the ocean surface with their bodies. You also get the 3 classic killer whale calls associated with the $10 pledge!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Greatest hits of Orcasound (2000-2017)

    Our favorite recordings from more than 15 years of listening to the Salish Sea and Northeast Pacific. For this amount you'll get not only the orca sounds from the lower pledge levels, but also a digital download of other amazing marine sounds, including: humpbacks of Haro Strait; transient killer whales; harbor seals; and a collection of other rare and unusual sounds, both biological and human-made.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Early access to our new app

    At this level you'll get an invitation to be first to try out our new listening app this summer when the southern resident killer whales return to the Salish Sea where our live hydrophones are located. No more waiting for a listening seat to open up! And your feedback may improve the app before its public release. Plus, while you're listening for them, you can play your digital collection of our greatest hits. (In June, you'll get all the recordings associated with lower pledge amounts.)

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    Founders package

    1x Limited edition black Southern Residents Orca T shirt.

    1x Your name in the “Founders“ section of the website

    1x Making of Orcasound: an annoated digital booklet of our research, design process, sketches and ideas about the app

    Best of Orcasound + beta access

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    20 backers
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Influencer package

    Join our Slack and Influencer-only channels and shape our beta product. You’ll be part of our creative process create the app!

    1x Limited edition black Southern Residents Orca T shirt

    1x Founders card on in the founders section

    1x Making of Orcasound

    Best of Orcasound + beta access

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Learn how loud your boat is underwater

    At this level you'll have the option of driving your (or your friend's) boat past one of our hydrophones on the west side of San Juan Island. We'll make a calibrated measurement of how loud it is underwater (its "source level") and give you a written report that compares it to other types of vessels and common sounds in the Salish Sea -- both in terms of broadband noise level and spectrum levels. You'll also receive all the digital downloads associated with the pledge levels from $10-100 when they are disbursed earlier in the summer.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Personal tour of the hydrophone system

    At this level, you'll have the option of visiting one of our hydrophone locations (whichever is most convenient or interesting to you) where Scott or Val will give you a personal tour of the hardware and teach you to get the most out of the new app. You'll also receive all the rewards of the lower pledge levels when they are disbursed earlier in the summer.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Deploy a hydrophone system

    At this level, you'll have the option of getting your hands wet with the Orcasound team (led by Scott and Val) as we install new hydrophones this summer or fall (at a location TBD in the Salish Sea). We'll lower the hydrophones from a boat, run cable through the intertidal zone, and connect it all to the Internet. You'll also receive all the rewards of the lower pledge levels when they are disbursed earlier in the summer.

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Funding period

- (33 days)