NSF GRIP NOAA Opportunity Position
Project title: Using Passive Acoustics To Study Cetacean Occurrence along the U.S. East Coast
Hypothesis or objectives: NOTE: This project is geared towards students in the NOAA- NSF/GRIP Program. Passive acoustic techniques are widely used to understand the spatial distribution, occurrence, and behavior of individuals, groups or populations of different species. At the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Passive Acoustic Research Group uses a variety of acoustic recording devices, such as bottom mounted hydrophones, towed hydrophones and autonomous gliders to study marine animals, including whales, dolphins, and fish. These data are used by our group to improve our ability to monitor, manage and conserve marine mammals in the western Atlantic Ocean. We are particularly concerned with large whales which are protected by the marine mammal protection act and the endangered species act. The current project will utilize data from our bottom-mounted recorders to investigate the presence and distribution of cetacean species along the U.S. East Coast, focusing on baleen whales. Three long-term recording units (HARPs) will be deployed along the shelf break from the mid-Atlantic through Georges Bank from April – October. 1) learn how to run automated acoustic detectors and identify target vocalizations from species of interest; 2) quantify the performance and accuracy of the detector; 3) evaluate the daily presence of 6 baleen whale species across these 3 sites.
Duration: 3 - 12 months
Area(s) of discipline: Biology, Ecology, Engineering, Environmental Science Studies, Living Marine Resources, Marine And Aquatic Sciences, Natural Resource Management, Oceanography, Zoology
Internship location: Woods Hole, MA
Duties and responsibilities: 1. Learn the basics of analyses of acoustic data, including becoming familiar with multiple acoustic software packages. 2. Utilize custom-built acoustic detector software to process data recorded from bottom-mounted recorders that were deployed along the shelf break of the U.S. East Coast. 3. Examine automated detections carefully to identify vocalizations of interest and quantify true and false detection rates for 6 baleen whale species. 4. Understand and participate in the process of determining which data are needed and how to use these data to accurately document the presence of different marine species based on vocalization information. Additionally, there may be opportunities to participate in field deployments of acoustic moorings or other boat-based data collection, depending on timing of such activities and available space.
Special skills/training required: 1. Highly motivated graduate student in the fields of Biology or Engineering, with dissertation focus in the fields of Acoustics, Animal Communication, Marine Biology, or Conservation and Management. 2. Ability to work independently 3. Experience with acoustic software packages (e.g. Raven, Xbat, Avisoft, etc) is desirable. 4. Experience programming in R or Matlab is desirable
Expected outcomes: Through this internship, the student will learn to work with acoustic data and software for analyses, including evaluation of automated detector methodologies and species identification. It will help them to understand how marine mammal research is conducted and what is needed to go from data collection to a product that can be used for a scientific publication and to help conserve species in the marine environment. Depending on the time that the student is available and the scope of their existing dissertation work, there may be an opportunity to incorporate parts of this project into their thesis plan.
Point of contact (Mentor): Danielle, Cholewiak
Organization: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Program office: NOAA/NMFS/READ/PSB
Mailing address: 166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Phone number: 508-495-2000
Fax number: None
Co-Mentor name: ---
Co-Mentor email: ---
Co-Mentor gency or organization: ---
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