Marine Mammal Acoustics


 Hydrophonex.jpg Spinner Dolphin
 Shannon Rankin with a newly built hydrophone array Launching the acoustic array


Begun as a hobby and pet project of Jay Barlow, the acoustics laboratory has developed tools used in the detection of cetaceans during line-transect surveys. This project has truly blossomed, and is now an integral part of our cetacean surveys. We have built a strong library of cetacean recordings from throughout the central and eastern North Pacific Ocean, with samples ranging from Peru to Alaska. We are also designing and constructing our own hydrophone systems, including towed arrays, directional hydrophones, and a bow hydrophone currently in place on the R/V David Starr Jordan.

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Research Publications


Barlow, J., S. Rankin, and S. Dawson. 2008. A guide to constructing hydrophones and hydrophone arrays for monitoring marine mammal vocalizations. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-NMFS-TM-417. 19pp.

Barlow, J. and S. Rankin. 2007. False killer whale abundance and density: preliminary estimates for the PICEAS study area south of Hawaii and new estimates for the US EEZ around Hawaii. Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) Administrative Report LJ-07-02. 15pp.

Barlow, J., and B. L. Taylor. 2005. Estimates of sperm whale abundance in the northeastern temperate Pacific from a combined acoustic and visual survey. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 21(3):429-445.

Dawson, S., J. Barlow, and D. Ljungblad. 1998. Sounds recorded from Baird’s beaked whale, Berardius bairdii. Marine Mamm. Sci. 14(2):335-344.

Jones, B., S. Rankin, E. Archer.  2011.  Fin whale acoustics as a tool to assess stock structure in the North Pacific.  U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum, NMFS-SWFSC-   485.  23 p. 

Oleson, E. M., J. Barlow, J. Gordon, S. Rankin and J. A. Hildebrand. 2003. Low frequency calls of Bryde’s whales. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 19(2):160-172.

Oswald, J. N., S. Rankin, and J. Barlow. 2008. To whistle or not to whistle? Geographic variation in the whistling behavior of small odontocetes. Aquat. Mamm. 34(3): 288-302.

Oswald, J.N., S. Rankin, and J. Barlow. 2008. To whistle or not to whistle? Geographic variation in the whistling behavior of small odontocetes. Aquatic Mammals 34(3):288-302.

Oswald, J.N., S. Rankin, and J. Barlow. 2007. First description of whistles of Pacific Fraser’s dolphins, Lagenodelphis hosei. Bioacoustics 16:99-111.

Oswald, J.N., S. Rankin, J. Barlow, and M.O. Lammers. 2007. A tool for real-time acoustic species identification of delphinid whistles. J. Acoust. Soc. Am 122(1):587-595.

Oswald, J.N., S. Rankin, and J. Barlow. 2004. The effect of recording and analysis bandwidth on acoustic identification of delphinid species. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116(5):3178-3185.

Oswald, J.N., J. Barlow, and T.F. Norris. 2003. Acoustic identification of nine delphinid species in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 19(1):20-37.

Oswald, J.N. 1999. Delphinid whistles recorded in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. NOAA Administrative Report LJ-99-07C. 50 pp.

Rankin, S., and J. Barlow. 2011. Acoustic recording system: a portable hardware system for shipboard passive acoustic monitoring of cetaceans using a towed hydrophone array. SWFSC Administrative Report, LJ-11-01. 

Rankin, S., J. Barlow, J. Oswald, and L. Ballance. 2008.  Acoustic studies of marine mammals during seven years of combined visual and acoustic line-transect surveys for cetaceans in the Eastern and Central Pacific Ocean. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWFSC-429. 59pp.

Rankin, S., J. Barlow, and J. Oswald. 2008. An assessment of the accuracy and precision of localization of a stationary sound source using a two-element towed hydrophone array. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWFSC-416. 29pp.

Rankin, S., J.N. Oswald, and J. Barlow. 2008. Acoustic behavior of dolphins in the Pacific Ocean: Implications for using passive acoustic methods for population studies. Can. J. Acoustics, 36(1):88-92.

Rankin, S. and J. Barlow. 2007. Sounds recorded in the presence of Blainville’s beaked whales, Mesoplodon densirostris, near Hawai’I (L). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 122(1):42-45.

Rankin, S., R. Swift, D. Risch, B. Taylor, L. Rojas-Bracho, A. Jaramillo-Legorreta, J. Gordon, T. Akamatsu, and S. Kimura. 2009. Vaquita Expedition 2008: Preliminary results from a towed hydrophone survey of the vaquita from the Vaquita Express in the upper Gulf of California. U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum, NMFS-SWFSC-439. 38p.

Rankin, S., T. F. Norris, M. A. Smultea, C. Oedekoven, A. M. Zoidis, E. Silva, and J. Rivers. 2007. A visual sighting and acoustic detections of minke whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata (Cetacean: Balaenopteridae), in nearshore Hawaiian Waters. Pac. Sci. 61(3):395-398.

Rankin, S., J. Oswald, J. Barlow and M. Lammers. 2007. Patterned burst-pulse vocalizations of the northern right whale dolphin, Lissodelphis borealis. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 121(2):1213-1218.

Rankin, S., and J. Barlow. 2007. Vocalizations of the sei whale, Balaenoptera borealis off the Hawaiian Islands. Bioacoustics 16:137-145.

Rankin, S., J. Barlow, and K. M. Stafford. 2006. Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) sightings and recordings south of the Aleutian Islands. Mar. Mamm. Sci. 22(3):708-713.

Rankin, S., D. Ljungblad, C. Clark, and H. Kato. 2005. Vocalisations of Antarctic blue whales, Balaenoptera musculus intermedia, recorded during the 2001/2002 and 2002/2003 IWC/SOWER circumpolar cruises, Area V, Antarctica. J. Cetacean res. Manage. 7(1):13-20.

 Rankin, S. and J. Barlow. 2005. Source of the North Pacific “boing” sound attributed to minke whales. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 118(5):3346-3351. 

Yack, T. M. Yack, J. Barlow, J. Calambokidis, L. Ballance, R. Pitman, and M. McKenna.  Passive acoustic beaked whale monitoring surey of the Channel Islands, California.  U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum, NMFS-SWFSC-479.  18 p.