[MARMAM] Invitation to join mailing list concerning ANSI standard for "Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Marine Animals"

Aaron Thode thode at mpl.ucsd.edu
Tue Nov 8 10:44:01 PST 2005

This is a general invitation to join a mailing list concerning the
development of a potential "American National Standard (ANSI)"--a
technical standard on passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) of marine animals,
organized through the Acoustical Society of America (ASA).  Both members
and non-members of the ASA are welcome to participate in the drafting of
the standard.

The second meeting on the topic will occur at the upcoming
Marine Mammal conference in San Diego, Thursday Dec.  15, from 19:00-22:00
in Betsy AB at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

To sign up for the list please access the following webstie:


The first step of the standard process is the formation of a working
group, S1/WG28.  The first meeting of the group was Oct. 19, 2005 at the
most recent ASA meeting, but working group members do not have to be
members of the ASA--hence this email to expand the outreach of the effort.
There will be a meeting at the upcoming San Diego Marine Mammal Conference
on this subject, TBA, and also at the ASA meeting at Providence, RI, June

The working group will write the proposed draft, and then institutional
members of the ASA standards committee will vote on the topic.  If
approved, the standard would be accepted by ANSI as a "voluntary consensus
standard"-the use of the standard is not required, but organizations that
report PAM activities would be encouraged to report compliance with the
ANSI standard in their reports.  The standard would be a US standard only,
but ANSI is a member of the international ISO standards group, so any
standard defined here could be used as a template for an eventual standard
with a more international scope.  Standards can be updated and revised
with time.  Further information about standards and the standards process
is at


If you sign up for the mailing list you will have access to a strawman
draft of the standard via the archives.  Please note that the process is
just starting so there is plenty of opportunity for feedback.  Feel free
to contact Aaron Thode at thode at mpl.ucsd.edu directly with questions.
The initial focus of the standard is on towed array systems, but may be
expanded to other types of PAM if there is a consensus to do so.

The standard would have several proposed purposes(can be adjusted):

(1) To establish a set of minimum procedures that would enable a technical
non-specialist to maximize the likelihood of acoustic detection of a
marine animal vocalization, if such a vocalization is made.  The
non-specialist may not have been responsible for the selection of the
equipment provided.  Thus much of this standard focuses on procedures, not
equipment selection.

(2) To define a set of data archiving, documenting, and reporting
procedures so that results and conclusions from different PAM activities
can be objectively compared by a neutral observer.  For example, PAM
measurements made from a large ship and a small sailboat in the same area
might reach different conclusions about the presence or absence of a
particular species in the area.  In this situation it would be extremely
important that information about the background noise levels recorded on
both systems be declared in the report, as well as the sampling rates,
dynamic range, and frequency response of the two systems.

(3) To provide a set of minimum metrics for characterizing and reporting
marine animal vocalization features, particularly those features that
concern the concept of source level.  It is thus hoped that greater
consistency in reporting sound characteristics is achieved.

(4) To recommend a set of additional procedures that would permit data
collected by non-specialists on non-research platforms to be used for
research into marine animal source levels, directionality, and ocean sound
propagation loss, which in turn may eventually have relevance to studies
of sound impacts on marine mammals.  For example, PAM monitoring that
attains type C or type D criteria would provide data that would be very
useful to study these topics.

(5) To facilitate the drafting of regulations, cruise plans, and reports
by standardizing some basic procedures for collecting acoustic data for
PAM purposes.  Rather than reiterating these procedures, these documents
may simply refer to the ANSI document for the essential requirements.

(6) To ensure that reports that use PAM data for non-research purposes
explicitly state the limitations and uncertainties associated with PAM.

(7) To encourage the market to develop an expendable, calibrated sound
source to permit PAM detection range to be empirically measured.

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