Corbett Bogner couldn’t believe his ears.
Do fish really make that noise?
So he touched the screen again, listened through his headphones, and giggled again.
Indeed, Pacific herring really do release gas noises.
“Do you hear that?” he asked his mom, grinning ear to ear.
The 6-year-old boy visiting from California was trying out the new interactive underwater listening booth recently installed at Langley Whale Center.
With a touch of a screen on illustrated whales, fish, seals, gulls and other marine life, sounds of the ocean bubble up, followed by a brief narration. Even the sound of a lightning strike can be heard, along with a couple other surprise noises from the depths.
The new high-tech interactive computer is housed in a wooden telephone booth from the days of old.
Complete with its original glass doors and comfortable perch, it’s an education in itself for many youngsters.
On top of its smooth gleaming maple is a leaping orca. People sit inside the booth to listen or pick up one of three headphones hanging on the side.
Sunday, about three dozen people gathered to hear about the woman the listening booth is dedicated to — Pat Price . Her family, friends and center volunteers all recalled her passion for educating the public as a whale center docent.
“From the beginning, she was just one of the most enthusiastic, friendly, engaging greeters we’ve ever known, and very much dedicated to orcas,” said Howard Garrett, co-founder of the Orca Network that oversees the center.
Neighbors Linda and Wayne Furber recalled her adventurous side paddling around Whidbey Island in a wooden kayak built by her husband, Ken Price, a woodworker.
“The circumnavigation of Whidbey was a bucket list item for her,” said Ken Price. “We started right after she was diagnosed with a very rare form of liver cancer. We completed about 68 percent of it in 4-9 mile increments over nine months.”
Price died Dec. 1, 2016 at the age of 72.
“I wanted to do something to memorialize her,” explained daughter-in-law Karen Price, who’s married to Scott . “I reached out and asked, ‘Have you got any projects you need funded?’”
As a matter of fact, Susan Berta of Orca Network, had one in mind.
For several years, she’d had an old telephone booth she bought on Drew’s List with a notion to repurpose it as some kind of ocean listening exhibit.
The family put out word to friends and relatives of the need to raise funds for the project.
Some $4,000 was raised. Scott Veirs led development of the hardware and software and Sara Hysong-Shimazu created a beautiful panoramic view of marine life. Veirs, of Beam Reach Marine Science, researches how underwater noise is affecting resident killer whales and Pacific salmon in the Salish Sea.
Veirs also links the public to the sound of local orca pods through the orcasound hydrophone network, a feature which soon will be accessible at the center exhibit.
Wendy Sines, manager of the Whale Center and its all-volunteer staff, said she didn’t know much about whales when she came aboard in 2014.
“Pat really welcomed me,” she said. “She had a real pleasant but passionate way to educate people. She basically trained me. And she was a really good sport about putting on her orca outfit at events.”
Son Scott Price narrates during the underwater exhibit. His daughter, Lydia, has a starring role.
Not to be a spoiler, her line tends to make youngsters giggle.
Ken Price said he liked the exhibit for it’s simplicity.
During the dedication, he spoke of the many tributes of the old booth that he helped restore. He made the sign and whale atop the booth; a display with photos of his late wife are placed on the side.
“The booth had a long life of delivering conversations,” Ken Price told the gathering. “It wears its battle scars well. It’s got clear glass and inside there’s very heavy, durable metal. It’s almost indestructible.
“It’s made of proud maple. Maple is a tough wood but very gentle,” continued Price, who owns Senair’s Cove Woodworking and Repair.
“I look at this and I think of Pat,” he concluded, wiping away tears. “I see a wonderful combination of complexity and simplicity.