[MARMAM] Publication on Ship-based Automatic Detection of Whales for protection from Underwater Noise Impacts

Daniel P. Zitterbart daniel.zitterbart at awi.de
Wed Aug 14 05:21:41 PDT 2013

Dear MARMAM subscribers,

I’d like to draw your attention to our recent publication which might be 
of interest for your work.

Zitterbart DP, Kindermann L, Burkhardt E, Boebel O (2013) Automatic 
Round-the-Clock Detection of Whales for Mitigation from Underwater Noise 
Impacts. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71217. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071217

In this manuscript we describe the development and evaluation of a 
thermal imaging based automated whale detection system. We discuss 
detection performance, double blind comparison with MMO's, and timeous 
availability of whales. Details on the detection algorithm are described 
in the manuscript.

The Article is available here:


For questions and comments please contact:
Daniel.Zitterbart at awi.de
Olaf.Boebel at awi.de

Best Regards

Loud hydroacoustic sources, such as naval mid-frequency sonars or 
airguns for marine geophysical prospecting, have been increasingly 
criticized for their possible negative effects on marine mammals and 
were implicated in several whale stranding events. Competent authorities 
now regularly request the implementation of mitigation measures, 
including the shut-down of acoustic sources when marine mammals are 
sighted within a predefined exclusion zone. Commonly, ship-based marine 
mammal observers (MMOs) are employed to visually monitor this zone. This 
approach is personnel-intensive and not applicable during night time, 
even though most hydroacoustic activities run day and night. This study 
describes and evaluates an automatic, ship-based, thermographic whale 
detection system that continuously scans the ship’s environs for whale 
blows. Its performance is independent of daylight and exhibits an almost 
uniform, omnidirectional detection probability within a radius of 5 km. 
It outperforms alerted observers in terms of number of detected blows 
and ship-whale encounters. Our results demonstrate that thermal imaging 
can be used for reliable and continuous marine mammal protection.

Daniel P. Zitterbart			
Alfred Wegener Institut		phone: +4947148312212
Am Alten Hafen 26
27568 Bremerhaven

mail: daniel.zitterbart at awi.de
web:  http://www.awi.de/People/show?dzitterb
web2: http://madscientists.de

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