Conserving orcas with acoustic AI

There are only 73 Southern Resident Killer Whales (SKRWs) living in Puget Sound as of November 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 detect 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. View our projects >


OrcaHello is an AI-assisted hydrophone monitoring and alerting system used by researchers and conservationists to protect SKRWs. Since it went live in September 2020, it has enabled 24×7 monitoring of 3 hydrophone locations by significantly reducing moderation time to an average of 10 minutes/day. So far, this has allowed experts to issue over 60 notifications of the whales’ approximate location to partner organizations, to inform vessel traffic slow-downs or halt construction. OrcaHello is an open-source project founded by volunteers at Microsoft Hackathons. Learn more about us >


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.