Targeted Acoustic Data Processing for Ocean Ecological Studies

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Natalia Sidorovskaia1, Kun Li1, Christopher Tiemann2, Azmy S Ackleh1, Tingting Tang1, George E Ioup3 and Juliette W Ioup3, (1)University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA, United States, (2)R2Sonic, LLC, Austin, TX, United States, (3)University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, United States
The Gulf of Mexico is home to many species of deep diving marine mammals. In recent years several ecological studies have collected large volumes of Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) data to investigate the effects of anthropogenic activities on protected and endangered marine mammal species. To utilize these data to their fullest potential for abundance estimates and habitat preference studies, automated detection and classification algorithms are needed to extract species acoustic encounters from a continuous stream of data. The species which phonate in overlapping frequency bands represent a particular challenge. This paper analyzes the performance of a newly developed automated detector for the classification of beaked whale clicks in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Current used beaked whale classification algorithms rely heavily on experienced human operator involvement in manually associating potential events with a particular species of beaked whales. Our detection algorithm is two-stage: the detector is triggered when the species-representative phonation band energy exceeds the baseline detection threshold. Then multiple event attributes (temporal click duration, central frequency, frequency band, frequency sweep rate, Choi-Williams distribution shape indices) are measured. An attribute vector is then used to discriminate among different species of beaked whales present in the Gulf of Mexico and Risso‚Äôs dolphins which were recognized to mask the detections of beaked whales in the case of widely used energy-band detectors. The detector is applied to the PAM data collected by the Littoral Acoustic Demonstration Center to estimate abundance trends of beaked whales in the vicinity of the 2010 oil spill before and after the disaster. This algorithm will allow automated processing with minimal operator involvement for new and archival PAM data. [The research is supported by a BP/GOMRI 2015-2017 consortium grant.]