Barix supports whale studies in Canada

Canadian non-profit conservation organisation Pacific Wild is using Barix Instreamer IP audio devices to study humpback whales off the coast of British Columbia.
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Canadian non-profit conservation organisation Pacific Wild is using Barix Instreamer IP audio devices to study humpback whales in their natural setting off the west coast of the country. Dedicated to protecting Canada’s Pacific coast, Pacific Wild has deployed audio monitoring stations at four points along the British Columbia shoreline to capture live sounds of humpback whales in their natural marine environment. The monitoring stations use hydrophones to capture whale audio and other sounds of the ocean in high quality. Barix Instreamer IP audio devices encode the captured sounds live and stream the audio 24/7 over the internet to Pacific Wild offices, allowing employees, scientists and wildlife enthusiasts to study and learn from the behavioral patterns of humpback whales — and how underwater noise affects their behavior. According to Rob MacKenzie, a freelance IT engineer working with Pacific Wild, the Barix solution has significantly improved the live audio quality from the hydrophones. MacKenzie was brought in to “bring the technological level up a few notches” and improve the end-to-end system. The previous audio system recorded 8-bit audio at 8kHz, which made it challenging to capture clear sound. The Barix solution digitizes the hydrophone-captured audio into 16-bit MP3. “I was tasked with rebuilding the entire system,” said MacKenzie. “I put up a new Linux recording system, added new monitoring systems, improved network availability and rebuilt the power systems for all the enclosures. But the Barix Instreamer has been instrumental to our research. We’re capturing everything from loud identification calls to soft back-and-forth chatter. Just being able to record those very soft sounds proves the bit depth and audio quality we get from Barix.” MacKenzie noted that while there are a number of research stations for whale behaviour in British Columbia, there has been a gap in the central coast area that Pacific Wild is now covering. Pacific Wild expects to expand to 12 sites over the next five years, using Barix to encode and stream all live audio. “There is a lot of research going on with humpback whales, including male song and how it changes across large geographical areas,” said MacKenzie. “We can monitor how one whale will start singing a slightly different song, and how it is passed along to other whales. We’re also studying how ambient underwater noises and shipping traffic affect their behavior and ability to communicate. The Barix devices, in addition to providing audio, help us perform measurements, create graphs and understand trends related to all these sounds.”www.barix.com

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