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J Acoust Soc Am. 2004 Jul;116(1):245-53.

Tracking sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) dive profiles using a towed passive acoustic array.

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  • 1Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, California 92093-0205, USA.


A passive acoustic method is presented for tracking sperm whale dive profiles, using two or three hydrophones deployed as either a vertical or large-aperture towed array. The relative arrival times between the direct and surface-reflected acoustic paths are used to obtain the ranges and depths of animals with respect to the array, provided that the hydrophone depths are independently measured. Besides reducing the number of hydrophones required, exploiting surface reflections simplifies automation of the data processing. Experimental results are shown from 2002 and 2003 cruises in the Gulf of Mexico for two different towed array deployments. The 2002 deployment consisted of two short-aperture towed arrays separated by 170 m, while the 2003 deployment placed an autonomous acoustic recorder in tandem with a short-aperture towed array, and used ship noise to time-align the acoustic data. The resulting dive profiles were independently checked using single-hydrophone localizations, whenever multipath reflections from the ocean bottom could be exploited to effectively create a large-aperture vertical array. This technique may have applications for basic research and for real-time mitigation for seismic airgun surveys.

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