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Mobile Autonomous Platforms for Passive-Acoustic Monitoring of High-frequency Cetaceans

TitleMobile Autonomous Platforms for Passive-Acoustic Monitoring of High-frequency Cetaceans
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsKlinck, H, Fregosi, S, Matsumoto, H, Turpin, A, Mellinger, DK, Erofeev, A, Barth, JA, R. Shearman, K, Jafarmadar, K, Stelzer, R
EditorFriebe, A, Haug, F
Book TitleRobotic Sailing 2015: Proceedings of the 8th International Robotic Sailing Conference
Pagination29 - 37
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN Number978-3-319-23335-2

Increased human activities in coastal and offshore waters, including renewable energy efforts such as the deployment and operation of wind, wave, and tidal energy converters, leads to potential negative impacts on marine ecosystems. Efficient monitoring of marine mammals in these areas using stationary passive-acoustic technologies is challenging. Many recreational and commercial activities (e.g., fishing) can hinder long-term operation of moored listening devices. Further, these waters are often utilized by cetaceans such as porpoise species which produce high-frequency echolocation clicks (peak frequency ~130 kHz) for navigation, communication, and prey detection. Because these ultrasonic signals are strongly absorbed during propagation, the acoustic detection range is limited to a few 100 m, and therefore the spatial coverage of stationary recorders is relatively limited. In contrast, mobile passive-acoustic platforms could potentially be used to survey areas of concern for high-frequency cetacean vocalizations and provide increased temporal coverage and spatial resolution. In a pilot study, a commercially available acoustic recorder featuring sampling rates of up to 384 kHz was customized and implemented on an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) and tested in the field. Preliminary results indicate that these systems (a) are effective at detecting the acoustic presence of high-frequency cetaceans such as porpoises, and (b) could be a valuable tool to monitor potential negative impacts of renewable energy and other anthropogenic disturbances in the marine environment.