Acoustic detections of blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) and fin whale (B. physalus) sounds during a SURTASS LFA exercise

C. W. Clark, N. S. Altman

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7 Scopus citations


Acoustic data collected on the R/V Cory Chouest in February and March 1996 during an active operation of the U.S. Navy's surveillance-towed-array-sensor-system low-frequency-active (LFA) sonar were analyzed for blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) and fin whale (B. physalus) sounds. Operational monitoring and mitigation protocols were implemented throughout the exercise to reduce the chances of an acoustic impact on marine mammals and sea turtles. The operational schedule did not include intentional "control" periods without transmissions but did include periods when the LFA sonar was not operating for other reasons (e.g., repairs). There were insufficient detections of blue whales for further analysis. Fin whale acoustic detection probabilities were calculated from the postprocessed data. A local-linear-regression analysis was used to compare fin whale detection probabilities from 2065 11-min intervals under conditions when the LFA sonar was and was not transmitting. There was an indication of a slightly higher probability of detecting fin whale sounds during periods when there were no LFA transmissions than during periods with transmissions. This may be the result of the following: 1) Reduced vocal activity by whales in response to LFA transmissions; 2) the effect of the mitigation protocols; or 3) some combination of 1) and 2). The data presently available do not allow one to distinguish definitively between these explanations, mainly because there were not enough data recorded for periods without LFA transmissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-128
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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