A digital acoustic recording tag for measuring the response of wild marine mammals to sound

Mark Johnson, P L Tyack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

540 Citations (Scopus)


Definitive studies on the response of marine mammals to anthropogenic sound are hampered by the short surface time and deep-diving lifestyle of many species. A novel archival tag, called the DTAG, has been developed to monitor the behavior of marine mammals, and their response to sound, continuously throughout the dive cycle. The tag contains a large array of solid-state memory and records continuously from a built-in hydrophone and suite of sensors. The sensors sample the orientation of the animal in three dimensions with sufficient speed and resolution to capture individual fluke strokes. Audio and sensor recording is synchronous so the relative timing of sounds and motion can be determined precisely. The DTAG has been attached to more than 30 northern right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) and 20 sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) with recording duration of up to 12 h per deployment. Several deployments have included sound playbacks to the tagged whale and a transient response to at least one playback is evident in the tag data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • Effects of noise
  • Marine animals
  • Tags
  • Underwater acoustic measurements
  • Northern elephant seals
  • Whales


Dive into the research topics of 'A digital acoustic recording tag for measuring the response of wild marine mammals to sound'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this