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Using Passive Acoustics to Study Cod in Massachusetts Bay

Summary / Description

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Passive acoustic techniques (i.e. the sounds produced by marine animals) are widely used to understand the spatial distribution, presence and behavior of individuals, groups or populations of different species. At the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the passive acoustic research group uses different acoustic techniques, 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 animals in the western Atlantic Ocean.

Typically our research is focused on marine mammals, however recently we widened our scope to include fish. Due to overfishing, North Atlantic cod are currently a threatened species and little is known about their spawning and feeding locations. Using our bottom-mounted hydrophones we are able to record the unique grunting noise produced by male cod during spawning, and then use the acoustic data to investigate the presence and distribution of cod populations.

The main priorities of the project are to:

  1. Learn how to identify target vocalizations and run automatic acoustic detectors for Atlantic Cod;
  2. Compare the performance of different detectors and quantify their accuracy; and
  3. Understand and participate in the process of determining which data are needed and how to use these data to accurately document the presence and distribution of Atlantic Cod based on vocalization information.

In this internship you will learn how to work with acoustic data and software for analysis, and 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.

Skills Required

Before applying for this opportunity, students should have an interest in marine biology, conservation, and species management, as well as the ability to pay close attention to details and stay organized while working independently. This project requires willingness to learn the basics of acoustic analysis, including becoming familiar with multiple acoustic software packages. Experience with MatLab and GIS is helpful, but not required.

Other Information

Internship Location: NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, MA

Intern Supervisor: Dr. Sofie VanParijs and Samara Haver / Number of slots available: 1

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