About this project
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
$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!
User Research - June
Development - June is Orca awareness month!
Testing - July
Beta launch - July / August
Hydrophones go in the water - July
Calibration and testing - August
Heavy weather testing - Winter 2017
Whales are weird by Khanh Mai
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
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