Bio-Waves Inc. has developed several new acoustic technologies that can be used to monitor marine mammals and other large marine vertebrates at sea.
Towed Hydrophone Arrays
Bio-Waves has expertise in the design and construction of towed hydrophone arrays. We have built several towed array systems for use in a variety of marine mammal survey projects from the arctic to the tropics. We have even deployed 'dual' arrays to provide more accurate localizations for tracking killer whales and other species. We have developed custom arrays for various applications and species groups. We are currently working on incorporating sensors (depth, tilt, magnetic bearing) into our arrays to provide more precise information on species locations and are in the process of making our entire system portable for use on ROV, AUV's and small vessel applications.
Sonobuoys were originally designed for the Navy to detect and track submarines. However, they are also quite useful for monitoring sounds produced by marine mammals. Sonobuoys are typically deployed from an airplane or boat and are monitored remotely using a radio receiver. This allows great operational flexibility because it is not necessary to remain in the immediate area of the sonobuoy to monitor sounds. Bio-Waves has helped the The U.S. Coast Guard design and test a portable sonobuoy system to help monitor and mitigate potential impacts to marine mammals during their at-sea training. We are also experimenting with different processing methods to allow us to locate animals in real-time. Finally, we are working on developing a small portable system that can be used on any small vessel or airplane to monitor, record and locate marine mammal sounds.
Another rapidly-advancing field where we have developed new technologies is micro-electronic animal tags. Along with our partner Desert Star Systems, we have developed a three-dimensional underwater tracking system that uses a small underwater acoustic micro-transponder to locate and relay information about the tagged animals. Tags are attached to the animal using harmless suction cups and upon detachment (usually after several hours to a day or more) data can be retrieved from the tag which also functions as a data-logger. This system was tested on blue and humpback whales in Monterey Bay and we are using the results to improve the system. We plan to use this system to tag and track humpback, minke, and other species of baleen whales.