British Columbia

Orca research station sends text messages when killer whales nearby

A new text messaging service will ping you when whales are in the frame of live cams positioned in British Columbia's Johnstone Strait.

Text messaging service has already gained 500 subscribers since launch last week

It can be challenging to know when a rewarding shots like this one of an orca breaching near Hanson Island in B.C. will come. (Ken Balcomb/Explore)

Don't speak whale? No worries: A new text messaging service will ping you when whales are in the frame of live cams positioned in British Columbia's Johnstone Strait, so that one doesn't miss awesome moments like this whale waving hello during a sunrise

The five live cams have already gained roughly 500 subscribers since its launch last week, said online portal's spokesman Jonathan Silvio, and there are plans to add two live cams in the near future. 

"The live cams are great, but people can't necessarily sit and watch all the time for the orcas to appear," he said. 

That's why whale research station OrcaLab, which studies the northern resident population of killer whales and runs the live cams, partnered with the U.S.-based Explore. 

The whales can sometimes be seen beach rubbing, in which orcas make shallow dives to brush their bodies over smooth pebbles, off Hanson Island. 

Silvio said OrcaLab's staff will monitor the feed and send alerts via text and social media when the orcas are swimming by.

The research station on Hanson Island has tracked whale behavior since 1970. The waters are where roughly 150 orcas retreat in the summer to feed and give birth. 


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