When looking at whale research, under-water sound is a huge factor in considering cetacean health and wellbeing. Most whales use a variation of their own pitches to socialize and communicate with eachother, as well as to locate their food. The noises they make vary from clicks and whistles to pulsed calls. However, new research intimates that blue whales are altering their language, in large part due to noises coming from needlessly loud container vessels. This intrusive sound profile can interfere with the calls the whales send out and receive from other whales.
While the research doesn’t suggest that smaller commercial vessels are adding to this increased ocean pitch, at Prince of Whales Whale Watching, we are making sure that we take every step we can to improve the habitat of our beloved cetaceans, and that we continue to work toward reducing our environmental footprint as often, in as many arenas that we can.
So when it came time to refit our Zodiac style vessels, Prince of Whales’ founder Alan McGillivray and Small Vessel Fleet Manager Nick Banks dug into the task excitedly. As enthusiasts for the new Mercury SeaPro engine series, they saw a chance to reduce the Zodiacs’ sound profile and see increased, fuel-efficient delivery.
The new Mercury V-8 4.6L and V-6 3.4L SeaPro series boast an exceptionally lightweight design and advanced range optimization with maximum fuel economy at cruise speeds. Its industry-exclusive, battery-management technology means less maintenance is required. These engines are a source of pride for a reason: they are more environmentally friendly in that their efficiency means less power use. Therefore, less strain is put on the environment Prince of Whales Whale Watching uses them in: the Salish Sea, home to both our Southern Resident Killer Whales and Bigg’s Transient Orcas, among other incredible wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.
The first to use these newly fitted Zodiacs was our most trusted skipper, Mark Malleson. As an expert tour-guide and experienced marine research assistant, Malleson understands first and foremost the critical importance of our species interaction. The more we can do to reduce our noise profile, in his view, the better. “I love how quiet they are,” he confesses about his initial trial. We hope the whales do too!
Photography © Marie O’Shaughnessy