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Including Whale Call Detection in Standard Ocean Measurements: Application of Acoustic Seagliders

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Over the past decade, fixed recorders have come into increasing use for long-term sampling of whale calls in remote ocean regions. Concurrently, the development of several types of autonomous underwater vehicles has demonstrated measurement capabilities that promise to revolutionize ocean science. These two lines of technical development were merged with the addition of broadband (5 Hz to 30 kHz) omni-directional hydrophones to seagliders. In August 2006, the capability of three Acoustic Seagliders (ASGs) to detect whale calls was tested in an experiment offshore Monterey, California. In total, 401 dives were completed and over 107 hours of acoustic data recorded. Blue whale calls were detected on all but two of the 76 dives where acoustic data were analyzed in detail, while humpback and sperm whale calls were detected on roughly 20% of those dives. Various whistles, clicks and burst calls, similar to those produced by dolphins and small whales, were also detected, suggesting that the capability of ASGs can be expanded to sample a broad range of marine mammal species. The potential to include whale call detection in the suite of standard oceanographic measures is unprecedented and provides a foundation for mobile sampling strategies at scales that better match the vertical and horizontal movements of the whales themselves. This capability opens new doors for investigation of cetacean habitats and their role in marine ecosystems, as envisioned in future ocean observing systems.

Document Type: Short Communication


Publication date: December 1, 2007

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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