An Investigation on the Signal Processing Techniques Used by the Toothed Whales for Target Discrimination


PIs: Wu-Jung Lee, James Preisig, Alessandro Bocconcelli, Applied Ocean Science & Engineering
Peter Tyack, Biology

Grant Funded 2010

Accurate target discrimination remains one of the outstanding challenges for human-made sonar systems. Understanding the toothed whale’s broadband biosonar system, which has evolved a sophisticated ability to discriminate biological targets successfully, could guide future developments in effective target discrimination techniques for human-made sonar systems. We propose to investigate the toothed whales’ echolocation-based target discrimination process by conducting an experiment which involves the implementation of a novel experimental setup, similar to the natural process by which toothed whales select prey. Behavior and acoustic data, including outgoing clicks and echoes received from the targets, will be collected simultaneously using a combination of an animal-mounted digital acoustic recording tag, far-field hydrophone array, and underwater video cameras. These data will be jointly analyzed to give insights to the toothed whales’ target discrimination ability. This interdisciplinary project requires combined expertise in marine mammal biology, acoustic scattering physics, and signal processing techniques. Results of this study can advance our understanding of the toothed whales’ biosonar system and improve our ability to use active acoustics to study the biological processes in the ocean across multiple trophic levels.