Passive acoustic detection of deep-diving beaked whales

WMX Zimmer, John Harwood, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Mark Johnson, Peter T Madsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Beaked whales can remain submerged for an hour or more and are difficult to sight when they come to the surface to breathe. Passive acoustic detection (PAD) not only complements traditional visual-based methods for detecting these species but also can be more effective because beaked whales produce clicks regularly to echolocate on prey during deep foraging dives. The effectiveness of PAD for beaked whales depends not only on the acoustic behavior and output of the animals but also on environmental conditions and the quality of the passive sonar implemented. A primary constraint on the range at which beaked whale clicks can be detected involves their high frequencies, which attenuate rapidly, resulting in limited ranges of detection, especially in adverse environmental conditions. Given current knowledge of source parameters and in good conditions, for example, with a wind speed of 2 m/s, a receiver close to the surface should be able to detect acoustically Cuvier's beaked whales with a high probability at distances up to 0.7 km, provided the listening duration exceeds the deep dive interval, about 2.5 h on average. Detection ranges beyond 4 km are unlikely and would require low ambient noise or special sound propagation conditions. (C) 2008 Acoustical Society of America. [DOI: 10.1121/1.2988277]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2823-2832
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


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