A Stereo Geocoding System For Marine Mammals

Jonathan Howland, Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering, Nicholas MacFarlane, and Peter Tyack Biology


The proposed work will take advantage of the close relationship be-tween WHOI's scientists and engineers to develop a stereo geocoding system that will revolutionize the study of marine mammal behavior. For the last decade, the Digital Acoustic Recording Tag (DTAG) developed at WHOI has given us an amaz-ing window into the acoustic and movement records of individual marine mammals. However, many marine mammals live in large dynamic groups of up to several hun-dred individuals. Thus, an individual animal's behavior is heavily influenced by its interactions with and by the behavior of its group members. Although recent work on social behavior has used simultaneous deployments of multiple tags on multiple animals, we are still missing critical information about the relative positioning of these tagged whales with respect to one another, limiting our ability to correlate surface behavioral observations of multiple animals with the tag records. Our stereo geocoding system will solve this 3D localization problem. By taking advantage of the photogrammetric expertise developed by Jonathan Howland and the Deep Submergence Lab, we will combine a GPS receiver, an attitude sensor and a stereo camera to create a system that will allow us to easily and quickly geocode all whales that are visible at the surface. Not only will this ground our behavioral observations in a quantifiable metric and connect them with the acoustic records of multiple tags, but it will create an extremely useful tool with broad applications ranging from demography and health assessments to abundance estimates.

Last updated: March 26, 2012