Hydrophone installation, by John

Richard and I had spent the last two days suffering through frigid temperatures, pouring rain, and a fierce wind, which kept the safety of our nearby skiff- our lifeline to safety- in the front of our minds.  We were making the final connections to complete our first self-energized hydrophone field site.

Matt Arnold, Suiting up to place the hydrophone

Just a week earlier, our good friend and extremely talented dive instructor Matt Arnold, from Green Sea Diving anchored our hydrophone in about 80 feet (27 meters) of water, 100 feet (33 meters) offshore. From the anchor, the weighted hydrophone cable snakes along the sea floor and into a 2” flexible sheathing before running through the tidal zone. This sheathing protects the delicate cable from crashing waves and heavy driftwood as it runs along the rocks. The cable terminates in a homemade controller box located several meters higher than the highest high tide line.

Flipping the hydrophone on!


We were rushing to get the final wires spliced and battery terminals crimped. 45 minutes before the sun hit the horizon, I carefully inserted the last wire, connecting the solar panel to its charge controller. I held my breath, flipped the breaker on, and toggled the hydrophone switch. All at once, small LED lights began to light up the box. We had done it; all of the equipment was powered. Time to get home! As the final affirmation that all was well, as our tiny aluminum boat rounded the  southern tip of the island,  we were greeted by a small pod of resident Orcas heading up Spiller Channel, what a perfect way to end a hard day!

Written by John Guillote
Photography by John Guillote and Becca Chandler
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