Measuring the acoustic detection range of large whales using an autonomous underwater (Slocum) ocean glider to improve an acoustic whale alert system for use by the offshore marine industry in Atlantic Canada

Principal Investigator:

Mr. Hansen Johnson, PhD Candidate, Dalhousie University

Start Date: April 2017

End Date: January 2018

In this project, researchers will investigate a novel and in-development passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) system for use as a marine mammal detection technique. The work builds on a current research initiative between Dalhousie University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) MA, USA. The WHOI collaboration allows strategic access to WHOI resources (expertise, equipment, facilities) to carry out the proposed work. The Dalhousie researchers are pioneering a system that combines autonomous underwater (Slocum) ocean gliders with the specialized WHOI- PAM system with utility to detect, classify, and report whale calls back to shore at intervals of ~2hours. One of the limitations of the ‘PAM-glider’ system, however, is the uncertainty in whale detection range relative to the glider. Determining detection range uncertainty is essential to effectively use the PAM system to monitor for the presence and location of whales. A system that incorporates sound-range uncertainty will provide an improved estimate of the area wherein the detected whale call most likely originated. The primary objective for this research is to evaluate the range-dependent accuracy of the glider-based PAM detection system. This information will be used to support the planned PAM-glider deployment taking place in spring (2017) off Cape Cod MA, in collaboration with WHOI and Dalhousie. Analytics from this US based deployment will be critical to informing future glider-based system development here in Atlantic Canada.