Wednesday, December 14, 2005

All Whale Sounds All day

This is about the weirdest station I have ever found. If you think you can top this, please let me know. In the city of Sitka Alaska, Clay Culbert dropped a microphone into the Pacific to broadcast whale sounds on KAQU 88.1 but why?!?!?

Sitka radio station KAQU is broadcasting what may initially sound like static. But listen closely and you will hear the underwater sounds of the ocean near Whale Park, and maybe even whales. The more you listen, the more you hear, the grunts, snaps and pops of whales in the Eastern Channel. Sometimes they even sing.

Whale radio is a low-powered FM station of 100 watts that was the brainchild of a group of West Coast marine mammal biologists. When they came to Sitka for a whale conference, they discovered the town is an ideal place to set up a listening station where whale sounds can be monitored. Jan Straley, a marine mammal biologist at the University of Alaska Southeast, presented the idea to the city, which holds KAQU's broadcasting license. The intention was to use the broadcasts as an education and research tool.

KAQU set up a hydrophone in 80 or 90 feet of water. It runs up a long cable into the storage room at the Whale Park restroom where the radio equipment is kept. The sounds of the ocean travel onto a small transmitter which sends the signal out on a little antennae that sits outside the building.

Strangely enough, this is not the first whale radio station. There is another on Vancouver Island, one on the San Juan Islands, and a new one is being installed in Kodiak. Check the map here.

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