SEATTLE, WA (February 3, 2022) – Quiet Sound, a collaborative program working to reduce noise and physical impacts to endangered Southern Resident killer whales from large commercial vessels, announces the official launch of its initiatives and monitoring programs, with the first meeting of its Leadership Committee held on January 27.
Quiet Sound received its initial funding and began organizing for this official launch in 2021. Quiet Sound is the primary, collaborative initiative in Washington state addressing the impacts of noise on local whale populations. Their focus is on giving commercial mariners and large vessels the resources to join together in a voluntary effort to slow down, reducing underwater noise pollution and protecting the 73 Southern Resident killer whales in the Salish Sea.
“We are eager to quickly build momentum behind our noise-reduction initiatives and monitoring programs to create a win-win solution where ferries, cruise ships, large vessels, and others on the water can coexist with our resident whales and ensure the future of this endangered species,” said Rachel Aronson, Quiet Sound Program Director. “We have encouraging partnerships in the works touching every aspect of the maritime industry and collaborative programs we will continue to roll out throughout the year.”
Quiet Sound is working in partnership with the tribal governments, state and federal agencies, scientific researchers, nonprofits, and other maritime industry organizations to initiate an advanced whale alert system and vessel slow down initiative to protect one of the whale species’ most valuable assets: communication. Diminished underwater noise means improved orca communication, protecting their ability to hunt and mate – empowering the acutely endangered species to thrive.
“Southern Resident killer whales are a key indicator of the overall health of Puget Sound and an important part of the NWIFC member tribes’ cultures,” said Randy Lumper, Puget Sound Policy Analyst of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “ We are excited to be part of the collaboration with Quiet Sound on this critical noise-reduction initiative in support of recovering our Southern Resident killer whales.”
“We’re excited to be part of the founding leadership of this initiative to reduce underwater noise to improve the environment for Southern Resident killer whales,” said Mike Moore of Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. “ Environmental stewardship is important to mariners who are willing to implement voluntary actions when there are measurable benefits. We also look forward to collaborating with our Canadian neighbors.”
Large vessels and vessel operations centers are asked to use the Whale Report Alert System, available as a mobile app or in a browser, providing real-time, geographically specific alerts of whale sightings. These alerts can enable vessels to take measures that are safe for humans and for the whales, such as slowing down, stopping, posting a lookout, or taking an alternate route. Quiet Sound is engaging Washington sightings networks to provide a more complete real-time picture of whale locations for mariners.
Immediate next steps for Quiet Sound include partnering with Oceans Initiative to engage Puget Sound boaters in underwater noise measurements and advising the Port of Seattle on a research initiative on what is needed to further develop Washington’s underwater noise sensing network. Quiet Sound will also partner with the U.S. Navy’s Northwest Tech Bridge on a technology challenge to support innovators in developing new onboard whale sensing capabilities for vessels underway.