This project is being conducted in cooperation with the University of South Florida and is sponsored by the National Ocean Partnership Project (NOPP). MAI’s focus has been to record wild dolphins using a towed horizontal hydrophone array. These data were used to produce source level estimates of 164 and 161 dB re 1 µPa at 1 m for bottlenose and spotted dolphins. MAI is also performing acoustic propagation predictions in order to estimate the detection range around individual bottom-mounted acoustic recorders.
Objectives of the full project include determining the spatial and temporal distribution of cetaceans on the central West Florida Shelf (WFS) through autonomous passive acoustic monitoring and quantify the ambient noise levels present on the central WFS and model sound propagation to estimate range of detection. The project will also be used to determine source levels of common cetacean species on West Florida Shelf and to detect and quantify physical oceanographic features present on the central WFS with satellite imagery, in situ measurements, and modeling. Additional objectives will allow us to detect and quantify patterns of chlorophyll concentration on the central WFS with satellite imagery as well as to develop a library of sounds produced by common cetaceans from the Gulf of Mexico. A final objective is to determine the relationships between cetacean distribution, oceanographic variables and ambient noise levels.