Conserving orcas with acoustic AI

There are only 74 Southern Resident Killer Whales (SKRWs) living in Puget Sound as of July 2022. They share their waters with boats and ships near the port cities of the Pacific Northwest. These vessels contribute to underwater noise that hinders the whales’ ability to echolocate and find fish to eat; especially the salmon they prefer.

Our goal is to create a sustainable co-existence for SRKWs and human activities across their range, from California to Alaska.

About AI for orcas

We are expanding a network of underwater microphones, known as hydrophones, that we hope will soon span the whales’ territory along the west coast of North America. With the bioacoustic data collected from the hydrophone network, we develop machine learning models to classify signals made by killer whales calls, clicks, and whistles in real-time. Artificial intelligence increases our capacity to detect whale signals by allowing a handful of experts to focus their attention on locations where whales are likely to be present. Learn more about us


OrcaHello is an AI-assisted hydrophone monitoring and alerting system used by researchers and conservationists to protect SKRWs. Volunteers at Microsoft hackathons have created a machine learning model that listens for orcas calls around the clock, tracking their approximate location. The data is uploaded to Orca Hello where we can notify our partner organizations about the whales’ location to help vessel traffic to slow down and halt construction.

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Orcasound was created 20 years ago with the goal of helping to expand the hydrophone network in Washington and to organize the open development of new bioacoustic solutions—both software and hardware. As of 2022, there are 19 NGOs cooperating through Orcasound and a 100s of contributors building open, free software and hardware.