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illustration of EK 80

Cone of Sound

WHOI’s newest research vessel Neil Armstrong is among the first ships in the U.S. research fleet outfitted with a EK80 sonar system. Like a fish-finder, it emits sound waves that reflect off marine life. But unlike fish-finders, which emit only one frequency of sound, the EK80 emits a broad spectrum of sound frequencies. WHOI scientists Tim Stanton, Dezhang Chu, Andone Lavery conducted painstaking lab tests to analyze how different sound frequencies echo off different types of marine life. Scientists can now use the EK80 to detect and distinguish phytoplankton, tiny krill, and fish within the ocean. They can also detect phenomena such as methane bubbles seeping from the seafloor. (Illustration by Eric S. Taylor, , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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