Acoustic detection range and population density of Cuvier's beaked whales estimated from near-surface hydrophones

Jay Barlow*, Selene Fregosi, Len Thomas, Danielle Harris, Emily T. Griffiths

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The population density of Cuvier's beaked whales is estimated acoustically with drifting near-surface hydrophone recorders in the Catalina Basin. Three empirical approaches (trial-based, distance-sampling, and spatially explicit capture-recapture) are used to estimate the probability of detecting the echolocation pulses as a function of range. These detection functions are used with two point-transect methods (snapshot and dive-cue) to estimate density. Measurement errors result in a small range of density estimates (3.9–5.4 whales per 1000 km2). Use of multiple approaches and methods allows comparison of the required information and assumptions of each. The distance-sampling approach with snapshot-based density estimates has the most stringent assumptions but would be the easiest to implement for large scale surveys of beaked whale density. Alternative approaches to estimating detection functions help validate this approach. The dive cue method of density estimation has promise, but additional work is needed to understand the potential bias caused by animal movement during a dive. Empirical methods are a viable alternative to the theoretical acoustic modeling approaches that have been used previously to estimate beaked whale density.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-125
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2021


  • Acoustics and ultrasonics
  • Arts and humanities (miscellaneous)


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