**Guest Post** written by Leanna Matthews of Syracuse University                                       [Follow her on twitter @LeannaMatthews and check out her personal blog and website]

Every scientific journey begins with an idea.  These ideas can go one of two ways: 1) after countless trials and brainstorms, they actually work; 2) after countless trials and brainstorms, they don’t.  I think you can guess which one happens more often.

I came to the ORCAA lab as a visiting graduate student about a month ago with intentions of testing out some ideas.  Ideas that, when I posed them, were more like off-handed comments to my advisor rather than valid approaches to realistic data collection.  Let me back up a tiny bit…  I’m currently working on my PhD at Syracuse University with Dr. Susan Parks.  My interests are in pinniped behavior and physiology, and for my dissertation, I’m looking at the variation in male harbor seal mating behavior and its influence on reproductive success.  I’m also interested in the effects of shipping noise on harbor seals during the breeding season, but that’s another blog post for another time.

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) (Photo: Ron Niebrugge)
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) (Photo: Ron Niebrugge)

A few months ago, as I was furiously preparing for my PhD candidacy exam (one part proposal defense, one part general knowledge exam, all parts stressful), I met with Susan to discuss how I could get the data that I wanted for the project I was proposing.  I wanted underwater movements of harbor seals during the breeding season.  I wanted to map out male territories and really figure out how and where they were spending their time when they were below the surface.  Harbor seals, along with the majority of phocids, mate underwater.  Underwater behavior of any marine mammal is difficult to obtain.  We, as researchers, are limited in our visual observations to what happens above water.  The best method we have to tracking animals subsurface is tagging.  But tagging is expensive, time consuming, and logistically difficult – it typically involves getting a boat and a team of able-bodied persons, capturing the animal, and gluing a tag to its fur.  It’s doable, but not with solely my grad student resources.  Susan and I began spitting out other ideas:

“What about how they track fish, like a tiny PIT tag?”                                                          “Can we localize with a fish tag?”                                                                                              “They do it for salmon, no?”                                                                                                       “But how could we get the tag on the seal?”                                                                      “Some sort of remote attachment, so you wouldn’t have to capture them.”                               “Could we feed it to them?”                                                                                                       “That probably wouldn’t be a good idea…”                                                                                 “I guess we could just shoot it at them in a paintball.”

And there you have it, ladies and gentleman.  The mildly sarcastic comment that snowballed into a cross-country trip to Oregon and countless hours of researching glues and paintballs.

Vemco V6 Acoustic Tag
Vemco V6 Acoustic Tag

After a bit of post-meeting research, I came across some small high frequency acoustic transmitters (made by Vemco, pictured on the right) that are used to study fish movement.  They’re small, only about 16mm in length, and they emit 180 kHz signals about every 30 seconds.  These acoustic signals are picked up on receivers that are strategically moored in the study site.  By looking at differences in the times of arrival of specific signals, it’s possible to determine the location of the transmitter, i.e. the tag, i.e. the animal of interest.  Acoustic tags are great for looking at subsurface behavior because of how efficiently sound travels underwater (it’s much more efficient compared to air – you can read more about that here).  These tags seemed perfect!  They were small enough to fit in a paintball, they were the right kind of tag for studying underwater movement of individuals, and they emitted signals that were above the hearing threshold of harbor seals (and killer whales)*.

*Researchers have also used 69 kHz tags (instead of 180 kHz) to monitor fish populations.  The problem with these tags is that seals and sea lions can hear at 69 kHz.  Implanting a tag that emits a sound in the hearing range of the fish’s predator is basically attaching a dinner bell to the study organism.  When considering using acoustic tags on the seals, I wanted to make sure that they (and their predators) couldn’t hear the acoustic signal being emitted.  That way I could avoid any potential behavioral disturbance (or increased predation) caused by the sound coming from the tag.

I took my PhD candidacy exam, finished the semester, and packed my bags for Oregon, where ORCAA commander in chief Holger Klinck had agreed to help me test this weird tag attachment idea.

Current emotions: Excited.

Things we had to figure out:

  • How do we get the tag inside the paintball?
  • What kind of glue do we use? – something that doesn’t solidify inside the paintball, but cures almost immediately to the seal…hmmm does this product even exist?
  • How do we close the paintball once the tag and the glue are inside?
  • Will it actually stick to the seal? – we were going to need a real seal to test that one…

And thus began the Amazon binge-purchasing.  I bought glues.  Super glues.  Rapid cure super glues.  Super instant curing no drip super glues.  Veterinary grade surgical glues.  One-minute instant mix two-part epoxies.  Clear-dry power grip instant grab all-purpose interior adhesives.  I also bought some regular paintballs and some empty paintball shells.  And thanks to my paintballing sister, I already had the gun.

Current emotions: Overwhelmed – who knew there were so many options for adhesives?

The next step was to get the tag into the shell and fill it with glue.  This took a bit of finagling, but I finally did it!  I was so proud!  I made three types of paintball tags.  The first were regular paintballs that I emptied, stuffed with a tag, and filled with super glue (the green ones in the pictures below).  I sealed them with some glue and a sprinkle of baking soda.  It turns out that baking soda is an accelerant for cyanoacrylates (fancy name for super glue).  A tiny bit of baking soda and BOOM that super glue is SOLID.  The second type of tag ball was basically the same as the first, but I used the empty paintball shells (the clear ones in the pictures below).  Bonus – no emptying of paint required.  I was most proud of the third kind.  These were half filled with super glue and half filled with baking soda.  In theory, when it hit the seal, the tag would cure instantly to the fur of the animal because of the addition of the accelerant.

Current emotions:  Feelin’ creative and accomplished.

So many paintball tags!  So much super glue on my fingers!
So many paintball tags! So much super glue on my fingers!
So proud of my science!
So proud of my science!

I’m going to keep this long post from becoming too long and just tell you that it didn’t work.  No tags stuck to anything.

Current emotions:  Disappointed, to say the least.

Assembling the tiny crossbow
Assembling the tiny crossbow

But this is science!  So what do we do?  We brainstorm more ideas!  And what do we do when those don’t work either??  We brainstorm even more ideas!  I went from my failed paintballs, to thinking about crossbows, tiny pistol crossbows, compound and recurve bows, drones (no one would buy me drones though…).  After lots of trial and error, with an emphasis on the error, I landed on the pistol crossbow.  It was small, manageable, and didn’t have too much power.  I crafted some bolts out of wooden dowels, foam floats, electrical tape, PVC end caps, fishing line, empty paintball shell halves (might as well use them if I’ve already got them, right?), and of course, duct tape.  With a little finesse and the right adhesive, I shot these homemade arrows out of my little crossbow and somehow got a tag to stick to my target.  I. was. shocked.  Did all of my brainstorming actually just pay off??

Current emotions: Chest-pounding, can-crushing, fire-breathing, unstoppable POWER.

Homemade crossbow arrows and a successful tag attachment!
Homemade crossbow arrows and a successful tag attachment!

At this point it had been a roller coaster of successes and failures, which I thought was going to end with my, what could only be described as, legendary tagging success.  However, after some preliminary field-testing, it was revealed that in order to make these tags work in the locations I wanted them to work, I would have to outfit the study area with an impractical number of receivers.  Had all the time and research and effort and crossbow target practice all been for naught?  Probably.

Current emotions:  Uggggghhhhh seriously??  COME ON.  I just got the tags to stick!

Back to the drawing board.  Conversations with Holger, conversations with Susan, and conversations with Holger and Susan at the same time led us all to the conclusion that the classic tagging approach would probably be the most logical way to go about getting my data.  Luckily, it’s looking like I’ll be able to collaborate with some other groups here in Oregon on a tagging trip that’s already planned for next year.  My sample size will be lower, it’s not exactly the data that I thought I was going to get, it’s not even in the same field site I thought I’d be working, but thus is life.  As a scientist, you can’t be married to a certain data collection method or even to a certain location.  You have to keep the big picture in mind – what were the original scientific questions/objectives?  If you’re still able to get at these major objectives, then you’re probably still doing alright.  Any data I can get to better understand the underwater mating behavior of these seals is beneficial for conservation and even just marine mammal biological knowledge in general.  There’s still so much we don’t know about the organisms that live in our oceans (even ones like seals that spend part of their lives on land), but slowly and surely, we’re picking away at the mysteries.

Current emotions: Back to being excited.  This scientific journey, though so far has been more madness then brilliance, is only beginning.  New pinniped adventures await!

-Leanna Matthews, PhD Candidate, Syracuse University

I didn’t know what to write about this week until I read my lovely lab mate Danielle’s post and decided to keep with the theme of fieldwork. After all that’s what summer is all about for an ORCAA student.

I was lucky enough to come into this project on the off-season from classes. Meaning I could go out and look for whales and enjoy the sweet summertime. However, this means I’m unlucky enough to have to wait until fall term to have secure funding, and lets face it, as a grad student financial security is always in the back of your mind. Therefore, I spent my summer supporting myself by bouncing around three different jobs.

The first – marine mammal observing (this helps me get a head start on data collection).

The second – “naturalist” guide aboard the Discovery (the local whale watching company). They also let me throw a few hydrophones in the water every once in a while, to collect even more data!

Finally – coaching gymnastics at the rec center in town (AKA: hanging on to my dream of being an olympic gymnast for as long as I can).

Just kidding, my biggest dream has been becoming a marine research biologist since I was seven years old and it hasn’t changed once.

But the one thing that all of these jobs have in common is the perception about what I do as that marine research biologist. At least three times a week I hear:

“Man, you’ve got the coolest job ever! What’s it like doing this all the time?”

When I’m outside of my science community, I’m usually interacting with people visiting the west coast hoping to see a large gray whale on vacation, or children who haven’t yet figured out that marine biology isn’t just about dolphins and pretty coral reefs.

Therefore, to keep the happy vibes going my typical response to you have the coolest job ever is “yep, its pretty awesome.”

But sometimes… it isn’t.

For me, there are four components that equate to a great day of fieldwork: ocean conditions, marine mammals, the boat itself, and equipment (hydrophones, GPS, CFD, camera, etc.)

So in reality…

“The flow of research season goes a lot like this: whales are present, but ocean is impossible; or ocean is calm but the whales are gone; or both whales and ocean are good but the boat breaks down; or everything is working but the rain last night brought in some fog and ruined the visibility” (From Hawaii’s Humpbacks: Unveiling the Mysteries)

AND EVEN on the rare chance that everything goes right – observing marine mammals is hard and uncomfortable – 14 hours of standing with back pain, squinting into the sun until you see one part of the water that looks a little different then the others. I mean really there isn’t much on earth that’s more enormous than the ocean.

But In my short few months of fieldwork, marine mammal observing has molded me into the type of person that has what it takes to do this kind of research: dedicated, tolerant to pain, boredom, and frustration, and most importantly passionate about what you are doing.

Passion is definitely a prerequisite for the life of an ORCAA student. Graduate school gives you the chance to be reflective and the time to carefully wade through information (two things that are growing scare in our society) I like to think of it this way:

Graduate school: A costly way to pursue learning for learning’s sake. ☺

With that said I will share the greatest piece of advice I’ve received in my short time as a graduate student and that was to build in time to do something at the beginning of your day and at the end of the day, that way “work” only feels like a part of your day and not your whole day. This advice has helped me get through all of the frustrating days of field work.

So here’s a picture from this mornings surf before the boat trip…


Here’s the highlight of the boat trip. Okay, okay, so MAYBE IT IS THE BEST JOB EVER!!!


And as a bonus since I finished my to-do list early, I think ill head to the beach with some friends…Catch ya next month readers!


P.S. as I was writing this, I got word that the flow-through isn’t working on the research vessel. How ironic.

Soundbites is a (hopefully) weekly feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound.

It was a slow news week, folks, so I went back in time a bit to get you some interesting tidbits.

Tree crickets not affected by anthropogenic noisein a field where we’re constantly searching for an effect, sometimes it’s nice to read a paper that says the opposite. The authors speculate that because tree crickets evolved to call in environments with lots of other calling insects, they might not have issues with high anthropogenic noise levels.

White-throated sparrows alter songs differentially depending on noise sourcedepending on what noise is going on in the background (cars, spring peepers, wind, or other birds), white-throated sparrows would change their songs to compensate in the way that would allow them to be best heard. Sometimes this was singing at higher frequencies, sometimes it was not singing at all. It just goes to show that you can’t look for a single, across-the-board response to noise.

Visitors will pay for quiet national parkshumans value soundscapes, too, and we’ll put our money where our mouths (or our ears?) are.

Fun link of the weekkind of a rough cut on this, but it’s from the source so I’ll stick with it. David Rothenberg is a musician and a philosopher who does live duets with animals. Here he’s playing with some humpback whales in Hawaii. I first heard about this guy on Radiolab and he’s super cool. So is Radiolab.


Here at the ORCAA blog we try to bring you a glimpse into the everyday lives of our graduate students. Sometimes it’s really exciting and dramatic and involves cool technology, or going to interesting places with beautiful landscapes, or recording something new and important.

This is not one of those times.

Summer for many ecologically-based graduate students is a time for doing fieldwork, because the weather is (generally) better and you don’t have those pesky classes to get in the way. This is certainly true for many of my labmates, both in ORCAA and in the Garcia Lab, my other home. My fieldwork, on the other hand, is done in late winter-early spring, from the end of January until May.

IMG_4208 (1)
That’s right, I changed Songmeter batteries in the snow.

The weather was not nice for the most part, and the water was still really cold, but that’s when my study species, the Pacific chorus frog, comes out of the trees and calls to find mates.

I love studying amphibians. I love how complex their life cycle is, and the way that they make excellent environmental indicators (unfortunately, this usually ends up badly for them), and the way that they constantly surprise me. I really enjoy going out into the field to work with these little guys, even if it’s cold and inconvenient sometimes.

What all this means is that I spend my summers thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, I do other things too. I help my labmates with their experiments. I write, and I take classes, and I analyze data. I even take vacations occasionally.

As a student in the College of Forestry, I had a slightly different experience from the rest of ORCAA’s students when I started. One thing that was talked about at our two-day, sleepover orientation at HJ Andrews Research Forest was the value of thinking. Not of writing down while you think, not of talking with others and thinking aloud; the value of simply sitting and turning things over in your brain.

Pacific chorus frog on a Songmeter

I’ve taken this to heart this summer. For all the time I spend deep in the nuts and bolts of analysis, I try to take an equal amount and spend it thinking about what this is telling me. I let my mind wander over the scope of my project and beyond, to what other people have done and what it means in the context of my own work, and even unrelated ideas for future projects. I can pass a lot of time like this, musing on this or that, but it always ends up being valuable in one way or another.

Sometimes I write things down. Usually I don’t.

In an age of deadlines, where everything is regimented and production is the way we measure success, sitting and thinking can be hard to justify. It’s hard to measure the tangible product of thinking, the new connections between ideas forged. But if we’re not encouraged to do this as graduate students, when we’re supposed to be finding new and exciting things, how are we ever going to do it as professionals? As professors? As researchers?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a field where a few moments of quiet thinking wouldn’t help you somewhere down the line.

So while I still have deadlines and analysis and things to produce this summer, I’ll take my time about it and do a lot of thinking as well—I figure, if not now, then when?

Soundbites is a (hopefully) weekly feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound. Sorry I missed last week!

Pacific wrens change their songs when exposed to noisethis one is a cool one, folks. We’ve seen birds changing their songs in response to anthropogenic noise before, and here is no different: road noise impacted song duration. However, seaside birds exposed to surf noise changed more factors of their song than those singing next to roads. Interestingly, fundamental frequency was never one of the factors changed.

Prairie dogs impacted by road traffic noisein playback experiments, road noise caused prairie dogs to spend less time aboveground and foraging and more time vigilant. This is a big deal, because prairie dogs are a keystone species.

Acoustic monitoring WORKS!it’s always encouraging to see a study that shows the effectiveness of acoustic monitoring, and this one is no exception. Nighttime acoustic monitoring accurately assesses information about bird migrations in the Great Lakes!

Fun link of the weekapparently there is a whole website out there called strangesounds.org, but I found one of their lists of weird animal noises and it’s great. #5 is particularly awesome.


And the living is not necessarily easy but certainly more easily entertaining. Besides the wedding season it’s also conference season. All the lab-mates travel on the other edge of the country (USA) for summer schools, meetings, exciting field trips and pilot classes (stay tuned and Selene has some stories to tell). I made it to the other end of the Atlantic and all the way to my beloved motherland. My first time participating at the Underwater Acoustics meeting, an international conference that took place at the Island of Rhodes in Greece, just a few days after the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America that took place at Rhode Island in USA. Appears that the islands of roses (Rhodes derives from the Greek: rhodo which means rose) were acoustically active this summer. Coincidences are fun.

Four exciting projects were presented by OSU people.

Haru Matsumoto, had a presentation with the imaginative title: “Antarctic’s Siren Call: The Sound of Icebergs”. I absolutely love it when people use a cool title for their scientific projects! His talk and his project was as exciting as it sounds and it was by far my personal favorite non-bioacoustics talk of the conference. Haru showed how the sound of melting icebergs affects the noise budgets in the South Pacific Ocean. The disintegration of two large icebergs at Antarctica produced low frequency sounds, so loud that they propagated and got recorded across the equator up to 8o N, 10.000 km away from the icebergs! He measured an increase of the noise level by 6 dB and 3 dB in comparison to baseline years (when the melting icebergs were absent). If 3 and 6 dB doesn’t sound like a significant increase to you then you are probably not aware of the decibel scale. This Radiolab podcast “The Walls of Jericho” will entertain you and will explain in a simple and funny way how this scale works.

Lately we have been seriously concerned about the shipping, airguns, naval sonars and other prominent man-made noise in the ocean and how they interfere with marine life. Haru’s presentation opened a window to think how a non-anthropogenic sound source can have such an impact to the marine soundscape, and potentially impact specifically the largest baleen whales (blue and fin whales) that also vocalize at low frequencies (below 100 Hz). Even though natural, the melting of the icebergs can be effected by anthropogenic activities, in particular the human induced climate variability and global warming. No need to be more specific, feel free to consider further potential ecological implications.

Bob Dziak presented, through Haru (unfortunately Bob was not able to make the Oregon-Greece 20 hours long travel), the “Sources of long-term ambient ocean sound near the Antarctic Peninsula”. Bob’s project was one step more general and inclusive. He described the contribution of a variety of sound sources to the soundscape of the frozen South. Acoustic data were collected during 4 years using 2 hydrophone arrays and the results indicate that the main factors of sound production or “noise” (depending from which point of you look at it: the biologist’s or the geophysicist’s) around the Antarctic Peninsula are the icequakes (acoustic signal derived from fracturing of large free-floating icebergs or ocean front icesheets) and the whale calls!

The whales confuse the icequakes with ice cakes!
The whales confuse the icequakes with ice cakes!

The weather conditions are too rough for sound-measurable human activities and both the blue and fin whales seem to take advantage of this human-almost-absent corner of the world. The sound of the ice breakup and grounding is clearly the most prominent sound source in the Southern Ocean Basin but it varies seasonally. Bob’s presentation (same as Haru’s) made me switch my perception of summer and winter for a bit. In Antarctica, during the austral summer the increased temperatures result increased icequakes and the release of acoustic energy. The opposite happens during the austral winter when the icesheets form, even though the wind speed increases. The giants of the Antarctic Peninsula seem to follow the freeze-thaw cycles and their peak season matches the sea-ice-cover-minimum of the austral summer. Consequently if you want to see fin and blue whales when in the North Hemisphere is still winter, chase the summer down as south as it gets…

This conference was an excellent opportunity to reunite with ORCAA’s favorite Naysa. It had been almost a year since Naysa left Newport, after her few-months stay and collaboration with the CIMRS, and it was an indescribable pleasure to spend some warm Greek time with her and watch her awesome presentation on “Acoustics as a tool to reveal population structure of the elusive blue whale”. Naysa talked about the smallest subspecies of the largest animal on earth. The pygmy blue whale. She used 5 sites in the SE Indian and the SW Pacific Oceans to collect 3 years of acoustic data to

determine the occurrence of pygmy blue whale in these locations. Apparently th

Pygmy blue whale on it's belly
Pygmy blue whale on it’s belly

is species produces 5 regionally-specific calls: the Madagascan, Sri Lankan, Australian, New Zealand and Solomon type. Naysa used an automated method (detector) and was able to detect the “Australian” and the “New Zealand” dialects at the SE Indian and the SW Pacific Oceans respectively and her results provide evidence of a previously unknown population, the latter one! Naysa’s study is an excellent example of the numerous applications of acoustics, particularly to the population and movement patterns of marine mammal species over large spatial and temporal scales. The more I enter into the acoustics field the more excited I get about the knowledge and information that the sound solely can reveal us, especially about elusive cetaceans, like Naysa’s pygmy giant.

In the Ocean it is a common truth that what the eyes cannot see the ears can hear!

After seeing Naysa’s presentation I have one technical advice for presenters. Go simple or go home! She managed with minimum text, probably no text at all, pretty slides with most of the times just one picture, to get across her messages and keep the attention of her audience! Focus on the gist of your talk and feel confident to leave the details out giving the opportunity to people to ask for them if needed.

For my presentation we move back to the North Hemisphere and head eastwards. I presented my work at the Greek seas with the title: “Passive acoustic detections of odontocetes in the Ionian and Aegean Seas, Greece”.  Even though cetology was born in Greece (as mentioned in my first post: The philosophy of sound) 2500 years ago, little research has been done in the Greek seas since then. Mainly the Ionian Sea (west of continental Greece) has been investigated and almost exclusively during the warm summer season, while the cetacean populations in the Aegean (east of continental Greece) are largely unknown. I used 2 hydrophones during 19 and 10 months to assess the seasonal occurrence of different species in these two regions and determined the seasonality of especially the sperm whales (that I particularly love, usually dream of, and I am overall obsessed with) and the delphinids. I am proud to have performed the first long-term bio-acoustic monitoring study in Greece and looking forward to going out to the clear blue Greek waters to collect ground truth data necessary that will allow us for first time to tell apart the different dolphin species that dwell the Aegean! Any funding suggestions anyone…? If you do, you are welcome to join me at an Aegean cruise chasing dolphins!

Me and my poster!
Me and my poster!

My presentation was a poster and even though I am usually not very fond of this form of communicating my work, there is no way that I could have had a better result/impact and feedback. While I was thinking that 3h of a poster session would be dull and endless, I ended up spending more than 5h chatting about gender determination, localization of my animals with one single hydrophone (!), acquiring more acoustic data, using my spectral information for species detection, and getting inspiration from wonderful colleagues coming from Italy, Australia, China, Israel, San Diego, Boston, Pennsylvania and around the globe.

Poster take home message: if the number of posters is low  (<10), dare to submit one, especially if the number of parallel oral presentations is high (>=3).

This has been a wonderful and productive meeting!  5 days of underwater acoustics bliss. Listening and talking about the sound in polar areas (always fascinating environments), about bubbles (it might not be as etheric as it sounds but still interesting), oil and gas, renewable energy, hydrophone calibration, soundscapes, ships and noise, sonars, super-cool technologies that make me want to be an engineer, a bunch of marine sound-related stuff and of course whaaaaaaaaaales! Besides the days, the nights were equally exhilarating but in a more social way.

Science on tab
Science on tab

I met people from all around the world with whom I shared scientific ideas, PhD and work related concerns, personal perspectives and liters of raki 😉 It is always good to combine work and fun. Even better when work is fun. That is certainly true for my case and I bet for my ORCAA mates too. Lucky people!

See you all again at the next Underwater Acoustics meeting in Greece.

Preparing for some underwater acoustic experiments with fellow scientists.
Preparing for some underwater experiments with fellow scientists…

Next blog-post will include some of the Greek summer sunlight, the salty flavor of the Mediterranean and the sound of cicadas.

Happy and bright summer to y’all.



Soundbites is a (hopefully) weekly feature of the coolest, newest bioacoustics, soundscape, and acoustic research, in bite-size form. Plus other cool stuff having to do with sound.

Sexy voices–no choiceswith a title like that, there’s no way I’m changing it. Anthropogenic noise impacts female crickets’ ability to find potential mates.

Boat noise affects dugong vocal behavioradd another species to the list of marine mammals affected by boat noise. Here, it changes their harmonics.

Anthropogenic noise is affecting humpbacks in the southwestern Atlanticthis is one of the first documentations of anthropogenic noise levels in this area of humpback habitat, and the outlook isn’t good.

Fun link of the weekFriday is Independence Day for those of us in the US, and that means fireworks. Those really big, really bright booming fireworks (my least favorite) are called salutes. As this link demonstrates, it’s harder to get a nice, precise salute that goes off when you want it to than you might otherwise expect.

For those of you who are in the US, ORCAA wishes you a very happy and safe Independence Day!