for eschrichtiidae (omniana) [alm 128]

by a.f. jones

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1.

about

This piece is the first in a series called omniana, and is presented on behalf of two gray whales that frequent the Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. These whales are known by us as Patch (#49), and Little Patch (#53). The piece is both a noise recording and an ambient one: a somewhat musical work that is actually a raw underwater recording of a Washington State ferry approaching and docking in Port Townsend, WA on April 29, 2019. The sounds were captured using hydrophones and condensers
simultaneously in open air.

Undersea noise pollution is a problem, and a growing one, and there is little policy in the U.S. to address it. Even vessels operated by environmentally conscious organizations like the Washington State Ferries have significant issues to overcome if we are to expect healthier ecosystems. In Washington, Eschrichtiidae are at superior trophic levels in the local waters, and provide a delicate balance to the ecosystem. The winter feeding routines of Eschrichtiidae are essential for food and lipid stores that allow for their demanding migrations to tropical latitudes for breeding.

We must expect better, routine maintenance of propulsion trains and propellers from vessels. The intense noise that can be heard here is estimated to be 70-80 dB above what should be considered to be normal. In addition to causing stress to whales, such noise disorients gray and killer whales, fully disrupts their unique communications, and throws into disorder the availability and behaviors of prey species.
Listen, enjoy, and advocate for robust undersea noise pollution policy.

The sounds and the context:
- This ferry is making a slow approach to the Port Townsend dock at the end of its transit from Coupeville, WA.
- The loud metallic noises are the sounds its poorly maintained propulsion system and propeller
- The propeller stops as the ferry slows its speed
- The propeller is used again for navigation
- The propeller stops and the ferry slowly shifts to its water jets and thrusters for positioning as it approaches the dock
- The ambient sounds are the final process of positioning and docking
- The lapping water is the waves from the wake of the ferry during its earlier approach, finally reaching the floating dock I am standing on
- the bass sounds heard throughout the recording are the floating dock from which the piece was recorded, bumping into a pylon from shifting waves and currents

Alan Jones
March 2019

credits

released March 31, 2019

recorded and mastered by a.f. jones, 2018.

photography: a.f. jones

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