Tracking dolphin whistles using an autonomous acoustic recorder array

TitleTracking dolphin whistles using an autonomous acoustic recorder array
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsWiggins SM, Frasier KE, Henderson EE, Hildebrand JA
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Date Published2013/03
Keywordsacoustic arrays; bioacoustics; biocommunications; ecology; underwater acoustic communication; underwater sound; zoology

Dolphins are known to produce nearly omnidirectional whistles that can propagate several kilometers, allowing these sounds to be localized and tracked using acoustic arrays. During the fall of 2007, a km-scale array of four autonomous acoustic recorders was deployed offshore of southern California in a known dolphin habitat at ∼800 m depth. Concurrently with the one-month recording, a fixed-point marine mammal visual survey was conducted from a moored research platform in the center of the array, providing daytime species and behavior visual confirmation. The recordings showed three main types of dolphin acoustic activity during distinct times: primarily whistling during daytime, whistling and clicking during early night, and primarily clicking during late night. Tracks from periods of daytime whistling typically were tightly grouped and traveled at a moderate rate. In one example with visual observations, traveling common dolphins (Delphinus sp.) were tracked for about 10 km with an average speed of ∼2.5 m s−1 (9 km h−1). Early night recordings had whistle localizations with wider spatial distribution and slower travel speed than daytime recordings, presumably associated with foraging behavior. Localization and tracking of dolphins over long periods has the potential to provide insight into their ecology, behavior, and potential response to stimuli.

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