Detection and localization of blue and fin whales from large-aperture autonomous hydrophone arrays: A case study from the St. Lawrence estuary
AbstractThe feasibility of using passive acoustic methods (PAM) to monitor time-space distribution of fin and blue whales in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park was explored using large-aperture sparse hydrophone arrays. The arrays were deployed during summers 2003 to 2005 at the head of the 300-m deep Laurentian Channel. They were composed of 5 AURAL autonomous hydrophones moored at mid-water depths, near the summer sound channel. A small coastal array complemented the deployment in 2003. The apertures were from 20 to 40 km and the configurations were changed from year to year. The most frequent calls recorded were blue and fin whale signature infrasounds. Noise from transiting ships on the busy St. Lawrence Seaway often masked the calls on the nearest hydrophones. Sometimes this resulted in an insufficient number of receivers for localizing the whales using time difference of arrival (TDoA) methods. The technical characteristics of the arrays and data processing are presented, with an example of call detection and localization. Despite the difficulties inherent to this environment, PAM can be effectively implemented there, eventually for real-time operations.
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