EARS Buoy Applications By LADC: I. Marine Animal Acoustics

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Conference Proceeding

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Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center (LADC) scientists have investigated sperm and beaked whale clicks as recorded on Environmental Acoustic Recording System (EARS) buoys to analyze whale behavior and the possibility of identifying individual whales acoustically. The research began in 2001 and continues through the present. LADC has conducted three experiments in the northern Gulf of Mexico and participated with the Naval Undersea Research Centre with three experiments in the Ligurian Sea. Initially the research centered on sperm whale coda clicks and echolocation clicks. In 2007 it was extended to the study of beaked whale echolocation clicks. The measured data suggest that click properties can be used to identify individual whales. Initially the identifications were done by grouping clicks using self-organizing maps and other means of cluster analysis. Each cluster or class represents an individual whale. These methods have been refined and have become reasonably robust. Verification of the identification has been a problem since using visual observations has not been satisfactory. Presently localization of the clicking animals is being coupled with cluster analysis to verify the identifications. A new finding that rhythms of echolocation clicks can be used to identify sperm whale individuals is now a part of the research, and cluster analysis, rhythm analysis, and localization are mutually reinforcing the identifications. Other results using EARS buoys for marine animal acoustics are listed among the key findings of LADC acoustic research.

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