Survey of active acoustic monitoring (AAM) technologies

Open Access Report 2010

Final Report

Under the Exploration and Production (E&P) Sound and Marine Life Programme, a research study was carried out on the feasibility of the Active Acoustic Monitoring (AAM) of marine mammals. The purpose of such monitoring would be to detect marine mammals in those ocean areas where E&P activities are being conducted, in order to allow due diligence in mitigating any potential impact of these E&P operations. The study did not include any direct experimentation. The AAM study encompassed multiple work components. First, the problem domain was delineated in an overview of offshore E&P activities and of the ocean environments in which they are conducted. To make the analysis more concrete, six specific ocean areas of relevance to E&P were selected and their properties described. Next, the potential performance of AAM was investigated via a parametric study of the sonar equation, incorporating available knowledge of sonar technology and environmental effects (e.g., high-frequency backscattering from the ocean boundaries). This part of the study was intended to identify any fundamental limitations to AAM as imposed by technology or by the basic physics of the problem, and also to pinpoint those sonar features that are of key importance for AAM. Special effort was dedicated to investigating the target strength of marine mammals, as this is an area in which scientific knowledge is sparse at present. The parametric analysis included several generic examples, and was also applied to the six specific ocean areas; however, computer modeling of the six environments was beyond the scope of the study.

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