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A small towed beamforming array to identify vocalizing resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) concurrent with focal behavioral observations

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Abstract

Investigations of communication systems benefit from concurrent observation of vocal and visible behaviors of individual animals. A device has been developed to identify individual vocalizing resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) during focal behavioral observations. The device consists of a 2-m, 15-element hydrophone array, which is easily towed behind a small vessel, on-board multi-channel recorders, and real-time signal processing equipment. Acoustic data from the hydrophones are digitized and processed using broadband frequency-domain beamforming to yield frequency-azimuth (FRAZ) and "directo-gram" displays of arriving sounds. Based upon statistical analysis of independent portions of typical killer whale calls, the precision of the angle-of-arrival estimate ranges from +/-0 degrees to +/-2.5 degrees with a mean precision of +/-1.5 degrees. Echolocation clicks also are resolved precisely with a typical -6 dB mainlobe width of +/-2.0 degrees. Careful positioning of the array relative to the animals minimizes the effects of depth ambiguities and allows identification of individual sources in many circumstances. Several strategies for identifying vocalizing individuals are discussed and an example of a successful identification is described. Use of the array with resident killer whales did not interfere with vessel maneuverability, animal tracking, or behavioral sampling of focal individuals. This localization technique has promise for advancing the abilities of researchers to conduct unbiased behavioral and acoustic sampling of individual free-ranging cetaceans. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1389-1405
Number of pages17
JournalDeep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Volume45
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1998

    Research areas

  • SIGNATURE WHISTLES, BRITISH-COLUMBIA, DOLPHINS, LOCALIZATION, UNDERWATER, SOUND

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