Underwater sounds from the Disko Bay via livestream | Polarjournal

Soon, the entire world will be able to listen live to the unique Arctic underwater sounds in Greenland’s Disko Bay: Starting next spring, an acoustic monitoring station near Qeqertarsuaq will record the sounds of marine mammals and provide a round-the-clock impression of the soundscape below the sea.

While it’s still a mystery where Disko Bay, like Disko Island, got its name, there could hardly be a more fitting location for an underwater acoustic station. Starting in the spring of 2024, permanently installed hydrophones, underwater microphones, will capture underwater sounds around the clock, year-round, and broadcast them to the world via live stream. The recordings will also be available to the public at the Arctic Station in Qeqertarsuaq, as well as in museums and exhibitions in Greenland and in Denmark.

However, the data obtained will be used primarily to study the marine mammals that roam Disko Bay and to record man-made noise that may affect animal behavior.

Disko Bay in western Greenland draws a wide range of marine life due to its nutrient-rich waters. Fish such as capelin or cod lure various species of seals that pass through the bay during their migrations, including harp seals, hooded seals, ringed seals and bearded seals. And in January, bowhead whales arrive: until the beginning of June, around 500 to 1,000 individuals stay in the bay, which is the most important staging area for these whales. Additionally, narwhals, humpbacks, pilot whales and orcas are regular visitors to Disko Bay, while many seabird species also take advantage of the richly laid table.

Yet the area, with its biodiversity unique in the Arctic, is sensitive to human disturbance and was classified as of ecological value in 2012. Particularly increasing shipping traffic in the Arctic causes a great deal of noise beneath the waves and can be dangerous especially to marine mammals, as scientific studies have shown.

The project involves a collaboration between the community of Qeqertarsuaq, the Arctic Station, the Natural History Museum of Denmark, Seiche Marine Acoustic Solutions, Visit Greenland and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources. The funds needed to realize the project were provided by the Foundation of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation and Hotel Disko Island.

“We are very excited to launch this station as it will give us an unprecedented insight into the subaquatic world of Disko Bay and the fascinating mammals that live there,” said project manager Anna Olsen from the Arctic Station. “This is an important milestone in our understanding of the Arctic ecosystem and can help us protect this fragile area.”

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

Featured image: Michael Wenger

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